Safety First: Local runners learn tips for self-defense - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Safety First: Local runners learn tips for self-defense

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -- It's been four months since a female runner was attacked and raped in downtown Chattanooga.

Now a local business, known for its running shoes, is hoping to educate the women wearing them.
    
About 60 people packed Fast Break Athletics on the NorthShore Thursday night to hear from a Chattanooga Police officer with years of self-defense training experience.

If you're not a woman, or a runner, and think this story doesn't apply to you, think again.

These are tips anyone can use.

Leah Johnson and Jillian Hudson are training for their second marathon.

"We always make sure everybody makes it back, no matter what time we go, or how many people there are," says Hudson.

The pair started taking safety more seriously last October, when a woman was attacked and raped while running in the downtown area.

"Very scary to know that could be you out there attacked," says Johnson.

Chattanooga Police Officer Ron Zirk says the first line of defense is being aware.

That means no earphones.

"We've become so accustomed to living inside our little bubble," Officer Zirk says. "On the outside of our bubble it's kind of a nasty world out there. Be prepared for it."

When tying your shoe or stretching, look up, look around and look alert.

"My head is always up looking around," Zirk says. "It's not paranoid, it's being aware."

Pay attention to shadows, reflections and lingering vehicles.

Change your route and never run late at night, alone or in poorly lit areas.

"All common sense but a lot of people don't have any," says Lynda Webber.

While many veteran runners are already taking these steps, Zirk says there are tools all women should carry.

Mace packs a punch, but not on everyone.

Attackers on drugs, or those who have a higher tolerance to spicy foods, may not be impacted by the high concentrate of chili pepper.

Zirk suggests carrying an eye gouger and a small handgun at the ankle.

No matter your weapon of choice, training is key.

They are all tips anyone can use not just runners.

Zirk says the best way for any woman to protect herself is to listen to her instincts.

"The best way not to get in a situation is just not get in that situation," Zirk says. "See it coming way ahead of time and say, okay, I don't want to be a part of this, I need to go."

If you don't want to carry a gun or mace, there is always your keys.

I have always been told to carry them in between my fingers when I'm walking to my car alone.

Zirk says that could hurt you more than your attacker.

He suggests carrying them similar to how you would crank your car. It allows you to unlock your car, but also injure an attacker.

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