By Rachel Byrd
Following an unidentified man attacking a woman in Kingwood’s East End Park, the Lone Star College Division of Public Safety offers tips for how to stay safe while exercising outdoors.
Runners, joggers and others who exercise outdoors also offer their advice on how they protect themselves while exercising in Kingwood.
Paul Willingham, the Chief of Police of the Lone Star College police department, encouraged students and others who chose to exercise outdoors to run with a partner, to wear bright clothing and to run in well-populated and well-lit locations.
“Being visible is important so you don’t blend in,” said Willingham. He added, “Bad guys don’t like being seen, so make it hard on them.”
Willingham also stated that students ought to notify friends of the route they intend to take and not to run the same route at the same time daily in order to protect against planned attacks.
Furthermore, Willingham recommended that those exercising outdoors follow their instincts while they are out and about.
“Trust your gut,” said Willingham. “If you sense something is amiss, trust yourself—don’t ignore it.”
Willingham adds that runners ought not to run while listening to music.
“I know this is not popular,” said Chief Willingham, “but when you are jamming to music you are eliminating a vital sense needed for self-preservation.”
This advice was echoed by runners interviewed on how they stay safe and aware while running.
Professor Charity Combs, who enjoys running on the greenbelts in Kingwood, spoke of the trade-off of fun and awareness that comes from having headphones in while running.
“I like to listen to music,” said Combs, “but it means I do not hear other people when they are passing me.”
For runners who like to listen to music while running, Combs suggests that readers find an option that allows them to listen to music and still be able to hear the world around them, such as bone-conductive speakers.
Runners have a few more safety tips of their own.
Cameron Gilmore said, “I make sure that there isn’t a danger near me or some type of hazard by me.” He adds that he, “make[s] sure that I have all of my belongings with me.”
Professor Combs echoes Gilmore’s statement.
“The best advice I can give is awareness of surroundings at all times,” said Combs.
Professor Combs adds that, while her son was still young enough to fit in a stroller, she would keep a knife in one of the stroller’s pockets to defend herself and her son against attackers.
Even so, Combs admits that awareness is not enough.
“One thing I would add is a basic self-defense course will only teach of awareness,” said Combs. “You have to practice if you want to actually pull off anything they teach. The same [goes] for weapons. If you carry a knife, you better know how to use it or all you have done is give your attacker another weapon to use against you.”
Protecting oneself on the greenbelt, according to Professor Combs, is not only a matter of being aware.
It is also a matter of being prepared.