Ask the Goat: Preparing for attack, part 1

Editor’s note: This is part one of a two-part series on safety while running. Part two will be published on Oct. 23.

In light of recent attacks across the country involving runners, I wanted to share some tips that could help you.

Ask the Goat by Chris Knodel

Ask the Goat
by Chris Knodel

Every piece of running equipment is a potential weapon, and by adding one or two lightweight items, your safety and advantage increases exponentially.

Most attacks are in the dark. A bright headlamp/flashlight can help deter an attack, but if it does not you can easily blind aggressors temporarily by aiming those 200 lumens into their face and then running away or countering. Most attacks end if any retaliation occurs.

Handheld bottle
This is little more than a non-lethal club. If needed, you can layer bruises on an attacker’s face by keeping this bottle punching forward. It is hard and is strapped to your hand. If being held, your options are limited.

Running vest/hydration pack
In addition to holding everything, this vest gives you options. Many attackers simply want your stuff — material items, like iPod, wallet or keys. You can always comply with these demands by surrendering your vest and running. Unfortunately, that may not be all they want, and your vest then becomes a weapon and or tether. Ever swing a rock in a pillowcase? Your Samsung Galaxy is a formidable wrecking ball when swung like a bolo in your vest. One solid strike and the attack is over. You can even restrain unconscious perpetrators with its strapping.

You can always store two to three large zip-ties into your pack. They weigh nothing and can become handy if you ever need to keep someone put while you escape or call for help. Bear spray (250,000 BTU) is also compact, lightweight and highly effective if used correctly. I recommend buying two and practicing with one. Always know your equipment before having to fumble through the motions in a panicked state.

I do not advocate confronting aggressors unless you know what you are doing. The sad reality, though, is that you may not be able to make that choice. In most cases, a fierce and confident reaction to a potential attack is enough to deter it. Most attackers are cowardly and know they can find another ‘mark’ that is easier. Make them calculate the price of their victory, and most will back down. If not, strike hard, strike fast, and get away. You have everything you need with you, to include sharp-edged keys and a sizable watch that can really hurt someone.

Material objects can be replaced. Never sacrifice self for stuff.

Next week I’ll write about what to do when an attack is imminent.

Chris Knodel is a Mangum Track Club member and Sandhills Region native. He is the author of “More, Better Quicker – The Irish Goat: A Fat-Boy & His Path to Ultra-Distance.” His column will appear each Thursday on

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