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During the past 11 months, Covid19 has had a devastating impact on so many around the world. One of the silver linings to come out of all of this is that it has also given a boost to the running community. I know for me personally in my community more runners are out on the roads and trails then ever before. When gyms and fitness facilities were shut down or reduced to limited capacity it brought people outdoors! It's been pretty special to see so many people taking up this amazing sport that connects people in a very unique way.

What would you do if your RUN turns into a dangerous situation? Let’s say you are being followed or you get confronted by someone? Or you just have this feeling in your gut that something is not right. How would you react? Would you panic? Would you know what to do? My hope with this article is to give you some tips on gaining with a greater sense of awareness and how to deal with a worse case situation so that you can Run EMPOWERED!

For me personally and I’m sure many of you reading this, I have always used my running/walking or training time as my time to decompress and escape the everyday stresses of life. I’m an average runner that puts in about 10-25 miles a week of running. This all depends on if I’m training for a marathon or long distance event. This can change real quick if you are not prepared. For the sake of this article I’m going to talk about this in terms of what to do while out running or walking and being more aware of your surroundings and some simple self-defense and protection awareness tactics that you can apply. However, many of the same principles apply to multi-sport and other areas of your life. I will have an updated version of this available soon that specifically addresses the needs of multi-sport athletes.


Awareness is key. Knowing what and who is around you could save your life.

If you are a Coach I feel it is just as important with your clients and take early action to practice some of these tactics as it is to prescribe a hill repeat or an interval training session. Have your athletes practice memorizing street names, the number of walkers or runners they saw and license plates. It will keep your athletes engaged and thinking outside of the norm. See below.

Always be aware of where you are and where you are going. Ask yourself: “Is this a new running route?”

Memorize the streets, roads and trails that you run on. In a situation where you have to make a call to 911 you want to know exactly where you are at all times and give dispatch an exact address. This applies to trails as well. Know the trail names at all times.

Be aware of the vehicles that pass you. If you notice that the same vehicle keeps passing you memorize the vehicle make, model and license plate. If you are running with a cell phone don't be afraid to text a friend with the plate number and or make a call to 911.

If you are parking your vehicle in a parking lot be aware of who is around you. Have your gear close by and easily accessible that doesn't require you to lean into your vehicle and not see what is going on behind you.

Even when you are standing outside of your vehicle always keep the door between you and anyone who may approach you.


If possible run with a partner or a dog.

It is always best to ignore verbal harassment especially from afar. Once you engage with the harassers you have invited further escalation.

Run in daylight hours. Try to avoid running at night or rural areas. Especially areas that you are not familiar with. If you are in the nighttime hours be well lit and visible to others.

I know this will be controversial but if possible avoid using earbuds or be selective with where you wear them. It is always important to be able to hear sounds around you whether it be vehicles, ATV’s, bicycles, animals etc.

Never share on social media ahead of time the route you will be running whether you have your social network set to private or a public page.

If you dont post your running routes on social media, mix up your routes.

Use a GPS tracker device always!

Configure your phone or tracker device so it is a single click or activated alert to an emergency service.

Whether you are running alone, with a friend or even with a group, have a Point Of Contact (POC) and always let your POC know approximately how long you are running for and where you are going. Establish a system of letting a designated POC know when you leave and return.

Carry a whistle.

Have Identification on you. I personally love the ROAD ID bracelets and products.. I never leave home without it.

Keep at least $10 or an ATM card on you.


In the event you are put in a worst case situation that you have to defend yourself or someone in your group it is important to have a few self-defense tactics at your disposal. My first piece of advice is to take a class at your local self-defense studio with a qualified instructor. The techniques that are taught should be easily retained and able to apply them effectively by the time you leave that session.

Don’t panic. Do your best to think rationally. Once an aggressor sees that you panic it will only magnify the situation to a more dangerous situation.

Learn how to read body language. What are their hands doing? Immediately look to their hands. Look to see if they are in their pockets or to see if they may be holding an object that could be used as a weapon. Are they making eye contact with you? Is their a second or third aggressor? How close is the aggressor to you. Are they moving toward you? It is ok to keep a distance. However, if you are backing up to maintain that distance be aware of the environment. Is it rocky? Is the surface wet or slippery? Could you trip? NEVER turn your back to them.

If the aggressor has encroached into your personal space use your voice. If you are confronted YELL and try to draw attention to you and what is going on. This will likely send them a message that you mean business. If they do not back down and you are grabbed or they strike you do you best to fight them off. Aim for soft targets such as the eyes, ears, throat, groin, ribs etc. Do NOT let them grab you and attempt to take you anywhere. Stand your ground and make yourself hard to move by getting low to the ground but not on the ground. Think of it as a low squat. Let your center of gravity work to your advantage and this will make you hard to move.

Use the environment. Look for sticks, rocks, anything that may be to your advantage. A handful of sand in an attacker's eyes could give you enough time to escape. Every second counts in an altercation. If you do not have experience in fighting and defending yourself on the ground, do everything in your power to avoid going to the ground.


A few of my favorite products that every runner should have at their disposal are below: (PLEASE NOTE: I have NO business affiliation with any of these products) *** I strongly recommend that you do NOT use any of these products until you have been trained by a qualified individual in the proper use of how to use and apply them.**

Pepper Spray: Not only is this effective for deterring an attack from a person but can also be used on an aggressive animal.

Knuckle Lights: These are light-weight worn around your knuckles that act as a bright light and if you were to strike an individual it can be devastating to them.

Tiger Lady: This can be concealed in your palm and if needed can be used rapidly. This item is a worse case scenario product. Think of it as a spike between the separation in your fingers.

Kuba Kickz: This is a cool product that can slide into your shoe laces. Think of it like brass knuckles for your shoes. You can use this by kicking an individual in the shins or a soft target like the groin etc. Applying the use of this product can buy you enough time to escape and call EMS.

My hope is that even if you are able to take one thing away from this and if you ever have to apply any of these tactics that it keeps you safe so you can continue to enjoy this amazing sport.

To the learn more about the Run EMPOWERED Program, please visit and follow @ironheartjeremy on Instagram.

About Jeremy Woodward

Jeremy Woodward is a heart failure survivor, IRONMAN, Coach, 5th Degree Black Belt, Author, host of the Get Inspired With Jeremy Podcast Show, husband and dad to three beautiful girls. Welcome to my story; one that’s developed through life experiences, inspiration, faith and support. A story that’s unique to me and one many can probably relate to. My name is Jeremy Woodward. I was born with a bi-cuspid aortic heart valve, which is a congenital heart defect. At the age of 22, I had my first open heart surgery. Seven years later, my eyes were reopened, when the valve replacement failed, pedaling me forward into severe congestive heart failure. With a less than 1% chance of surviving, God blessed me with a miracle – I was the recipient of a mechanical heart valve. And on that day, I made a promise to myself. If my gift of life continued, I vowed to make an impact on our community, not knowing what that would look like. Three years later, I completed my first Ironman triathlon, followed by six Boston Marathons in support with Teddy’s Team, and have completed over 180 road and triathlon races. All of this started with my first lap around the ICU. Thousands of miles later, I opened my own Training Studio with the goal to coach and lead others on their fitness and lifestyle journeys.

In 2017, I was featured as an Ultimate Guy quarter finalist in Men’s Health Magazine. I believe in giving back, which afforded me the opportunity to raise close to $300,000 for charity, I’ve had the honor of being featured and sharing my journey in over 100 different media articles, including ESPN Online and a documentary titled HEART: Flatline to Finish Line. I Have 25+ years of Martial Arts training in Kenpo Karate, Kung Fu, Brazillian Jiu Jitsu, Krav Maga and Muay Thai. I have participated as a guest on numerous podcast shows, including The Amber Lilyestrom Show and The Amanda Tress Podcast. I recently started my own Podcast show called GET INSPIRED WITH JEREMY which is available on itunes, Libsyn, Spotify, Stitcher and Amazon!

I put a pen to paper and wrote down my story, in the pages of Heart Failure to Victory, bringing 2020 to a close. As I flip the page, moving from one chapter to the next, I am so excited to share a little piece of my heart. There is a lot to be said about human will and spirit; it can propel you in ways that are indescribable and undefinable. Everybody has a story to tell, one heartbeat at a time. I look forward to you all joining my journey and paving the way through inspiration and strength. Dream. Believe. Inspire.


•Host Of the Get Inspired With Jeremy Podcast Show

• Author: Heart Failure To Victory

• Certified FASTer Way to Fat Loss Coach

• UESCA Certified Triathlon Coach

• UESCA Certified Running Coach

• PN Level 1 Certified Coach

• USA Cycling Level 3 Coach

• Fitness Trainer

• SafeSport Certified

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