The best self defense for female runners

Every runner knows:

Running is a great way to stay in shape and live a longer life.

However, running outdoors can be dangerous for women.

For example, a string of 3 murders of female joggers in 9 days during 2016 stunned the United States. Surveys show that over 30% of female joggers feel unsafe while jogging outdoors.

There is good cause for concern among female joggers.

A recent study by Runner’s World uncovered that 45% of female joggers have been harassed while running. There’s a real fear that harassment like that could turn into something much more dangerous.

The current environment makes self defense for female joggers more important than ever.

In this article, I will walk you through:

  • some important safety tips for running
  • show you some of the best self defense weapons and safety products for runners
  • introduce you to some effective martial arts to use along with those weapons
  • answer some of the most pressing questions
  • and provide some resources for more info

Let’s get started!

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5 self defense tips for female runners

1. Don’t run at night

Running at night is significantly more dangerous than daytime running. Avoid nighttime running if at all possible.

However, running at a particular time of day won’t eliminate the risk – the aforementioned 3 murders took place during the day. It certainly can’t hurt, though.

2. Stay aware of your surroundings

I get it.

Almost everyone has their favorite running music. But it makes you less aware of your surroundings.

That is dangerous.

If you insist on listening to music, then only put one earbud in your ear.

3. Run with a partner

There is safety in numbers.

Don’t think your partner has to have two legs, either – his partner can be four-legged, too!

Just don’t run with a small dog, that won’t scare anybody!

4. Only run on populated trails.

Running alone in the woods can be a magical experience, but it also gives criminals plenty of opportunity.

Stick to trails that have heavy traffic or run near more populated areas. Again, safety in numbers is one of the most important strategies for self defense while running.

5. Let someone know your route and how long you will be gone.

This is good advice, not just for when you go running, but for whenever you leave the house.

You want someone to notify the authorities if they believe something happened to you, or you’ve been gone too long. Whether you are attacked or you break your leg, having someone know where you are and when you’re supposed to be back can be a lifesaver.

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The best self defense weapons to use when running

I believe that the self defense tips I shared above will greatly reduce your risk of attack.

Despite any precautions you take, attacks can happen even in the safest of environments. That is why I recommend always carrying a self defense weapon.

During an attack, anything can be used as an improvised weapon to fend off the attack. However, there are weapons built to make female runners safe while they run.

I have compiled a list of these excellent self defense weapons below:

Pepper spray

Pepper spray is the classic self defense tool, and my top suggestion for defending yourself in a threatening situation.

It allows you to strike from a distance, and put some space in between you and an attacker.. In most confrontations, the pain of the pepper spray will stun the aggressive party.

Pepper spray comes in a few different sizes and potency. I recommend a smaller model (3.5 ounces or less) that you can hold in your hand while running.

Stun gun

A powerful tool that can send 20,000 volts of electricity through an attacker. That makes anyone stop in their tracks. Important note: stun guns may not be legal in all jurisdictions.

The “Tigerlady”

A scary sounding name for a scary looking weapon!

This small item fits in the palm of your hand. With one squeeze, claws come out of the device – hence the name “Tigerlady.”

You can punch your attacker and do some serious damage to them in a self defense situation. In addition, the claws are designed so DNA from the attacker will stay in them. This makes identifying the attacker much easier for authorities after you’ve escaped.

The “Go Guarded” Ring

This weapon is a running self defense ring with a serrated blade protruding from it.

Unlike other self defense weapons, you do not have to pull this one out of a pocket or risk dropping it. One jab to an attacker should hurt or stun them long enough for you to make an escape to safety.

The “Kuba Kickz” Self Defense Control Device

This weapon is the only one in our list that attaches to your shoe.

Three hard rubber prongs make your kicks much more effective and could cause any attacker to think again. I recommend this as a secondary weapon, unless you already have some martial arts training in throwing effective kicks.

React Mobile – Personal Safety App

With this app you will never run alone again.

You can add friends and family to track your location via GPS. In addition, you can change your status from “I’m Fine” to “Follow Me.” In the case of an emergency you can alert authorities to your exact location with one tap of the “Help me” button. This app is a great secondary self defense tool for any female runner.

The Million Mile Light

A big aspect of defending yourself while on a run is simply being seen and being able to see.
If you insist on running in the dark, the Million Mile Light provides you with plenty of light. The best part about it? No batteries necessary. The light is powered by the motion of your body while you’re running!

Vigilant Hands-Free Wrist Alarm

Another noise-making device, this tiny wrist alarm that makes a loud noise when activated.

With one press of a button, the Vigilant wrist alarm emits a 130-decibel sound that is louder than a jet engine. This will surprise the attacker, which should give you plenty of time to escape a dangerous situation.

Road ID

This isn’t exactly a weapon, but it can be vital to protecting yourself in the event of an attack or an accident.

The Road ID is a plate that can be attached to a bracelet, tied to your shoe, or fastened to an anklet. This identification will help authorities identify you if you’re found unconscious and your main identification is lost or stolen.

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photo credit: Leo Hidalgo (@yompyz) Nikies via photopin (license)

The 3 best martial arts for self defense

A weapon can help you defend yourself in the case of an attack. However, any weapon is much more effective in the hands of someone who knows how to use it.

This comes in the form of martial arts training. Not all martial arts are created equal, though. Many fighting arts are excellent for competitions, but not very effective for real street self defense in a life or death situation.

The following 3 martial arts, however, were designed from the start with realistic self defense in mind.

Krav Maga

Krav Maga is not technically a martial art, per se. This is because it was designed by the Israeli military specifically for their soldiers to use in defending themselves. There’s really no “art” to it!

It is quickly catching on in the civilian world, with women practitioners in particular.

Krav maga focuses on rapid movements and quickly incapacitating an attacker via any means necessary. In addition, Krav Maga teaches the importance of identifying threats. All useful skills for any runner.

Check out this video to get a sense of what Krav Maga training looks like:

Jeet Kune Do

Jeet Kune Do is the martial art originally created by Bruce Lee. It was designed with self defense, not sport, in mind.

Everything about this martial art focuses on realistically defending yourself and quickly stopping an attack. There is also a huge emphasis on blocking and defending against punches.

This video shows JKD’s emphasis on boxing basics:

Filipino martial arts

All Filipino martial arts (in various forms, popularly known as Arnis, Escrima, and Kali) put a heavy emphasis on the use of weapons training. This training includes fighting with and against sticks, swords, and knives.

This realistic training makes all the Filipino martial arts very functional, since most attackers will use some kind of weapon. Many of the defense techniques involve the use of empty hands against a weapon, as well.

Here’s an example of Filipino martial arts empty hand versus knife training:


Proper and effective self defense while running starts by modifying your behavior:

  1. avoid running at night,
  2. run with a partner, and
  3. run in populated areas.

However, be warned that attacks still happen in otherwise safe areas.

To protect against those attacks in other safe areas, I recommend carrying a self defense weapon of some sort. Pepper spray is essential as it allows distance and no use of physical force. Good secondary weapons include Tigerlady claw and the Kuba Kicks. Other useful tools to have that are not direct self defense weapons include Road ID and the React mobile app.

As I said, all the weapons in the world can be rendered useless without proper training. Proper training in this case involves a true, self defense-oriented martial art. The 3 I listed above are all good places to start, with Filipino martial arts like Kali being most effective, because of the weapon emphasis.

Got another self defense tip for female runners? Leave it in the comments below!

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