Self-Defense for Runners: The Essentials You Need to Know

Running isn't always about exercise. A 2018 survey found that 43% of women at least sometimes encounter harassment while running. 30% of women said they had been followed by someone at least once. 

Anyone who goes running for exercise must understand self-defense for runners. Yet self-defense for women and men alike can be complicated. 

What are the laws that govern self-defense? What are some precautions you can take before you leave the house? What should you do when a dangerous situation presents itself? 

Answer these questions and you can remain safe while running. Here is your quick guide.

Legal Perimeters

Self-defense laws vary from state to state. Before you start to go running, you should review the laws in your state related to self-defense. 

In general, a person has the right to defend themselves whenever someone presents a significant threat to them. Someone may point a gun or knife at them or try to run them over with their car. 

A verbal threat may not provide enough motivation for a valid self-defense claim. Many people say they will kill or hurt someone else in the heat of the moment or just to scare someone. A person can defend themselves after a verbal threat and an attempt to execute the threat.

Proportionality is very important. Someone can use lethal force to defend themselves only if lethal force was threatened against them. 

"Stand your ground" laws mean that people are not under obligation to retreat when someone invades their house. These laws do not strictly apply to situations that occur when someone is jogging in a public space. 

All states allow runners to use pepper spray fog as a self-defense weapon. But some states impose perimeters such as age limits. 


Many runners who are assaulted are running by themselves. They are listening to music or looking down toward the ground, which can serve as a distraction. 

You should bring your phone with you whenever you go out alone, regardless of what you are doing. But you should avoid toying with your phone or listening to music. Place your phone in your pocket or in a belt so it is out of sight. 

Whenever possible, go running with someone else. You can also bring a dog with you. If you must jog by yourself, tell someone you trust what you are doing and where you are going. 

Do not bring any jewelry or cash with you. You can bring a photo ID in case a police officer stops you. You can wear a watch or a wedding ring, but try to keep it inconspicuous. 

Before you leave your house, plan out which route you want to take. Try to run down streets where there are other people and open businesses. Think about some alternate routes you can take in case something occurs.

Carry a key to your house and lock your doors. If you have an exterior light, turn it on. You should also leave one light on in your house so people think someone is home. 

Keep in mind that assaults are just one threat you face while jogging. Prepare for other scenarios like car accidents or medical emergencies. 

First Responses

Follow tips for staying aware of your surroundings. Remain attentive while you are exercising. Scan the street in front of you, look over your shoulder, and check behind locations where people can hide. 

If you feel nervous or suspicious of someone, avoid them. Cross the street and take an alternate route. 

If someone tries to interact with you, keep a few feet of distance from them. Do not approach someone in a car, as they may try to grab you.

Bear in mind that some people may be genuinely lost or need help. Point someone in a certain direction and then keep going. Do not interact with anyone who tries to verbally harass you, regardless of what they say. 

If you believe you are being followed, go down a few side streets. Do not stop moving, but look over your shoulder and warn the person following you. Running and giving a verbal warning may be enough to deter an attacker and they give you legal stature.

Self-Defense Strategies

Engage in physical acts of self-defense as soon as a situation escalates. The sooner you start using force, the sooner the attack may end. 

Spray compact pepper spray fog directly into the eyes of your attacker. If you have a bright light, you can shine in their eyes to get them to retreat. You can blow a whistle or set an alarm off to disorient them with noise.

If you don't have pepper spray fog, jab the attacker's eyes with your fingers. Punch the soft parts of their throat and strike the backs of their ears to stun them. Strike their groin with your knee or shin. 

Do not stop fighting until your attacker is on the ground and incapable of harming you. Leave the area and contact someone so they know you are safe. Try to get home as soon as possible.

The Essentials of Self-Defense for Runners

Self-defense for runners can be a little complicated. Any runner has the right to defend themselves, but lethal harm is not always justified.

Precautions include leaving all valuables at home and planning out a route. All runners should find buddies or tell others where they are going. 

Remaining aware of one's surroundings is the best way to avoid threats. When a threat presents itself, you should use immediate and forceful actions to counter it.

You can empower yourself with the right tools. Fazer Defense provides great pepper spray fog products at low prices. Browse our products today.

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