Issue 10 • February 2013

Are You Afraid to Run in the Dark?

Invisible pot holes, stealth curbs, cracked sidewalks or even being attacked by another person. There are a lot of things to be concerned about while running in the dark.

The average person would just say “well don’t run in the dark” but if you’re a runner you know that’s not an option. Those predawn runs are practically mandatory if you have a job or plan on training for a long distance run.

This month to ease your fears we’re bringing you some tips about running in the dark from 5 time Gate River Run winner Todd Williams, who still holds the American Record and Course Record that was set in 1995 (42:22). He has run a 4:00 minute mile, 13:19 5k, 27:31 10k and 2:11 Marathon as well as a 2 time Olympic qualifier and is now also a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Black Belt. Though his running and self-defense experience can’t fix any of the road problems, he has created a program called Runsafer to show you how to protect yourself from an attacker.

Although your fears may be the highest in the dark, attacks have happened in broad daylight so protect yourself by being prepared.

Read, remember and practice these tips!

Always run with a friend when possible, there’s always strength in numbers.

If you run alone, change your route regularly; You don’t want someone to be able to plan an attack based on your habits.

Wear bright reflective clothing. If you are attacked or end up in a scuffle, you will be seen easier by anyone driving or running by.

Wear a head lamp or flashing lights. Again the easier you can be seen the better and with a headlamp you’ll also be able to see your surroundings better.

Carry mace and be sure to create distance before you use it. You don’t want the attacker to have the opportunity to take it from you or for you to be affected by the spray.
Bring a cell phone, that extra 3oz isn’t going to slow you down. If you are attacked and get away you want to be able to call 911 as soon as possible.

This may be a tough one but especially while running in the dark run without head phones and if you absolutely just can’t do it, at the very least leave one ear-bud out keep the volume low enough to where you can hear what’s going on around you.

Always be sure to let someone know where you are. Even if it’s early in the morning shoot a friend a text to let them know you’re out on a run.

Go with your gut! Someone always says after the fact, “I had a bad feeling”. When you have that feeling, listen.

In addition to these tips, Todd showed us a couple of moves that are taught in the Runsafer program. He acted as an attacker and one of his students Stephanie Navarro was the runner.

Defend against a choke from behind

  1. It is very common for an attacker to come from the back with a choke hold.
  2. Shift your hips backwards and drop down to one knee while leaning forward.
  3. Pull the attacker over your shoulder onto the ground in front of you. Though it appears to take a lot of strength you are simply using the attacker’s weight against them.
  4. After they are flipped onto their back, you can put them in an arm-bar. You’ll have to learn that in the Runsafer clinic. In the meantime after you flip them over, get the heck outta there!

Defend against the bear hug

  1. Raise your arms as quickly as possible and even if you are unable to break their grip drop your hips.
  2. Step backwards and wrap one leg behind the attacker this will ensure a break of the grip you haven’t already. Then reach around a grab their legs.
  3. If you can’t grab both grab one and lift, shifting your hips forward. Again this doesn’t require a lot of strength. You are simply using leverage and their body weight to perform the work.

Defend from the ground

  1. This is the last place you want to end up but if you end up on the ground being choked first wrap your legs around the attacker. This will prevent them from climbing on top of you, gaining more control.
  2. Once you have isolated the attacker’s space, take both feet and place them on the attacker’s hips and kick as strong as possible, forcing you away.
  3. From here you can then come up onto your palms and kick with your feet. Aim for the groin, chest or face, whichever looks like the easiest target.
  4. From there pull one leg backwards and underneath you to allow you to stand up and run.
Anthony Duran

Anthony Duran

1 Comment

  1. March 3, 2013 at 10:17 pm — Reply

    Thanks for the tips and moves! A runner was attacked in my neighborhood a few weeks ago, and I’ve been a little paranoid to get out the door for my runs. With the weather inevitably warming up, darkness runs turn into a bit of a necessity. Being smart about it is really the only way to get through them.

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