The tragic death of a 17 year old abducted while running last week in San Diego has prompted runners and walkers to take precaution. Chelsea King was running a regular route she did often at Lake Hodges near her San Diego home when she was abducted. Her body was found in the lake 25 feet from the trail she runs weekly.
Her perpetrator has been arrested and is a registered sex offender. The incident has brought awareness to our local area making the public aware of safety issues in your own backyard. The question arises “how could this guy have been let loose to repeat this kind of sick act?” There is no resolution or answer to this question in the present moment so taking precaution is of utmost importance.
As a runner, the temptation to go out and run by yourself out of convenience is a hard one for some to resist. Precaution is the best defense and there are ways to overcome the feeling of inconvenience. Becoming aware of common practices you might be doing while running or walking is important in finding a balance of safety and feeling like you can remain free to choose your activities.
Here are some precautions you can take while running or walking in any area.
Run Music Free
iPods are the rage and certainly make the miles go by faster, but they really should be avoided when you are in an area that is secluded in any way or are not highly frequented. Even having earphones on can be a sign to a predator that you may not be aware of your surroundings so listening with one ear is not recommended.
Find a Running Partner
Believe me, I understand the difficulty in this. There are those who prefer to run or walk with someone, but those of us who have run for a very long time find serenity in running alone; it has become a lifestyle. Never the less, if the area is a trail with limited visibility or an area where you are completely alone at times, it just isn’t a great idea to go on your own.
Run with Your Dog
The fact is when someone is looking for prey, a lone victim leads to the best chances of not getting caught. The chances of someone accosting you when you are with a dog go way down, just as the statistics for burglaries in homes owning a dog are lower. Check out a fitness running dog program if you need a little help with your dog becoming your running partner. The great thing about your dog as your running partner is no matter what your schedule is, your dog is ready to go. No extra planning.
Vary Your Running Routes
When your running or walking route becomes predictable you are also increasing the chances someone can anticipate your arrival with ill will in mind. Mix up your days, times and routes that you are out doing your thing. Even for those who have running partners or run with a dog, it’s a good idea to vary your routine so you aren’t as likely to be “watched” by someone you aren’t even aware of.
Authors personal note: Chelsea King and the end of her healthy 17 year old life hit me hard. I did not know her, but I am a runner and was a runner at 17 as well. I have run on those very trails by myself many, many times.
I will be attending Run for Chelsea – Take Back the Parks on March 20th.
Zoot and www.10mw.com will be hosting a run at Lake Hodges in honor of Chelsea King. We encourage friends and family to come out to Lake Hodges and Take Back the Park in memory of Chelsea.
If you are looking for a resource to find running partners check out the 10 Mile Wednesday website and find a group in your area. Sign up for the Healthy Live Wag Report to get the first news of our Running Dog Program which was in the works and has been moved up in priority since finding out about the loss of Chelsea.