Learn three moves to defend yourself against an attacker.

Photos: Courtesy of Krav Maga Worldwide

For so many runners, there is nothing better than leaving behind the confines of the gym or the track and going for a run out in the open. It can feel like you’re invincible when you’re hitting your stride on the trails or pounding the pavement around your neighborhood. But the sobering reality is that runners, particularly solo female runners, are vulnerable to an assault. While you can stay safer by running in the daylight, listening to music at a lower volume and constantly scanning your surroundings, no measure can keep you 100% protected. But you can give yourself an extra edge by knowing what to do during an attack.

You are most susceptible to an ambush known as the “bear hug” attack (shown above). During this type of assault, an aggressor will grab you tightly, likely from behind, and you could quickly become immobilized with the attacker’s arms around you. This move is particularly dangerous because the attacker could easily lift, drag or slam you onto the ground. According to the self-defense training program Krav Maga Worldwide, it is crucial to counter the attack and fight back immediately with a three-pronged approach:

Drop your center of gravity

Prevent your attacker from lifting your body by making yourself as heavy as possible. Drop down as if you’re sitting into a chair with your head up and hips towards your attacker. This takes away some of the assailant’s control and sets you up for the next move.

Create some space

From your dropped position, twist side to side while sending strikes where your attacker is vulnerable. The experts at Krav Maga Worldwide recommend a groin strike first which will cause your assailant to move back and create space between you (shown on previous page). Continue to attack both sides with forceful blows; your attacker will keep moving away from you while your constant motion will make you harder to control.

Turn the tables

When you feel confident that you have enough space between you and your assailant, raise one elbow to protect your head and turn so you are face to face. You can also use the arm protecting your head to then punch or strike your attacker as you turn. Keep fighting aggressively until the grip on you is released and you can run away and get help.

Running is, and should be, an exercise that makes you feel strong, confident and ready to take on the world. But it only takes one distracted moment to become vulnerable to an attack. Make sure these tips are fresh in your mind every time you step out the door to keep yourself safer with every stride.