The horrifying news of the murders of three female runners last week has terrified women, making all of us who love to run outside rethink our exercise choices.
Alexandra Brueger, 31, was shot in Michigan; Karina Vetrano, 30, was raped and murdered in Queens, New York; and Vanessa Marcote, 27, was murdered in Massachusetts — all while running on well-marked trails or streets during daylight hours, just like we’re all told to do. Police do not think the killings are connected (which may be the scariest news of all) and all three murders remain unsolved. This has left female runners in a terrible position. The sheer awfulness of the crime has forced us to decide whether it’s worth the risk to run outdoors or if we should just stay in on the treadmill.
But while this is a deeply personal choice and will be different for each person’s situation, it is still summer — prime time for beautiful, balmy runs in the sunset. So if you do decide to head out but want to have a little extra protection, here are some safety gadgets designed specifically for women.
1. Go Guarded
Scratching is a natural self-defense move, but unless you get steel-reinforced gel tips filed to a point as part of your weekly mani, your nails may not be optimal weapons. But now Go Guarded, a plastic and metal “claw” you wear on your finger like a ring, turns your tips into talons Wolverine would be proud of. Best part: It’s lightweight and automatically accessible so you don’t have to waste time getting it out of a pack or pocket. (GoGuarded.com, $16)
One claw is great, but when if you’re facing down an assailant, you might prefer a whole handful of razor-sharp claws. The TigerLady is a felt pouch you wrap around your hand, like a hand-held water bottle. But instead of water, when you squeeze it, out pops a set of steel claws, similar to the way a cat’s claws extend and retract. The makers also included a groove under each “nail” for gathering DNA from an attacker. The company motto — “You don’t have to see him to ID him” — says it all. (TigerLady.com, $29)
Pepper spray is every woman’s self-defense standby. And Blingsting takes pepper spray to the next level, packing a potent spray in a tiny quick-spray bottle that’s camouflaged to look like a blinged-out lipstick. While you still have to carry it somehow, either inconveniently in your hand or in a pack or pocket, you have more range to use it than claw or punching devices, and it’s just as good at deterring a human attacker as it is a canine one. (Blingsting.com, $22)
4. Knuckle Lights
A headlamp will give you light on a nighttime run, but these knuckle lights give you trail illumination with the added bonus of brass knuckles. Throwing a punch wearing these won’t be fun, but in a tight situation the metal and glass should make it more painful for them than for you. And with 280 lumens of brightness they might also help temporarily blind an attacker or scare off an animal. ( KnuckleLights.com, $40)
5. Emergency Whistle Necklace
Whether you’re injured, scared or lost, sometimes a girl just needs to make a little (or a lot) of noise. This stainless steel necklace whistle by Guardian keeps a low profile under your top and is tough enough to stand up to a workout. And if the worst happens and you do need it, it’s just a quick tug away. (Amazon.com, $16)
6. Vigilant Wrist Alarm
This tiny wrist alarm packs a powerful noise: At 130 decibels, it is louder than a jet engine taking off and definitely louder than you can scream. It looks like a simple silver watch and is easily activated with just a quick push of a button. (Vigilantpps.com, $25)
7. Zipper Pull Whistle
A safety device can only work if you have it so remembering to bring yours is priority No. 1 in self-defense. One way to make sure you never forget your emergency whistle is to attach it to your running jacket or top. You can buy small, plastic whistles designed to be attached to any zipper pull or some jackets, sweatshirts and backpacks even have them built in. (Amazon.com, $10 for 10)
8. Road ID
While this isn’t a self-defense device per se, Road ID definitely improves your personal safety by making your emergency information readily available in case you are found unconscious. The plate, which can be attached to a bracelet, anklet or tied to your shoe, contains your name, any relevant medical information and emergency contact numbers. (RoadID.com, $20)
9. A note
It’s the most low-tech item on this list, but it may also be the most important. Safety experts say that letting people know your route, the time you left and the time you expect to be back is one of the best things you can do to protect yourself. A quick note left on the counter or a text to a friend can help people recognize quickly if you’re in trouble.