Follow these simple tips to make sure you’re not the target of an attacker while out on a jog.

Another day, another story hits the news of a jogger being attacked on their morning or evening run. It seems as though attackers deem runners an opportune target. Should you forfeit your favorite form of cardio, or is there a way to stay safe on the run? These five tips will help you decide.

1. Ditch the earbuds

Convicted criminals have gone on record admitting that when they’re considering which victim to target, distraction is their biggest asset. The element of surprise is an advantage to an attacker. If they can catch you off-guard, everything goes easier for them.

Runners with earbuds in or headphones on are easy to sneak up on. They can easily begin or carry out an attack before ever being seen by a victim who never knew what hit her. Forego the often-reached-for earbuds when on a run, or wear them around your neck so you can faintly hear the music to help you stay in step. Just make sure you can hear and are aware of everything else going on around you. 

2. Carry pepper spray or a stun gun

Yielding a small, easy-to-use self-defense tool while running is a fantastic way to prevent becoming a victim in the first place (don’t be scared to show it off!), and it will also allow you to fight off an attacker quickly and effectively should the need arise. Research shows that a self-defense tool must be in-hand and ready to use within 2-3 seconds of being alerted to a potential attack.

One of the easiest, most effective personal self-defense tools a person can carry is pepper spray. Pepper spray (as opposed to mace, which only causes pain) works specifically on the mucosal membranes of the eyes, forcing them closed for 15 to 20 minutes. It can be used at a distance, allowing you to get out of harm’s way and hopefully providing ample time for authorities to track down your attacker.

This pepper spray is perfect for anyone, especially runners. It comes with a wristlet for ease of carrying and a kill switch should it be stolen from you. This one sprays in a stream rather than in a mist that could accidentally come back to your own eyes.

Another must-have accessory for those on-the-go is this glove that slips over the hand (but doesn’t cover the fingers). It has a secure loop that effortlessly holds pepper spray (or another small self-defense tool). With this hands-free accessory, don’t have to worry about dropping your self-defense tool or fumbling around in your pocket for it (remember the 2-3 second rule?). It conveniently secures pepper spray in just the right position so it can be sprayed with the thumb, which is how pepper spray should always be used.

3. Alter your route

Resist temptation to run the same route day in and day out. Establish an unpredictable running routine. If anyone was watching you or a certain spot on a regular basis, they shouldn’t be able to predict your whereabouts.

Another reason for a regular change of scenery is to help you stay on alert. In particularly familiar places, one tends to let his guard down and could unwittingly invite an attack. 

4. Look people in the eyes

Much like attackers prefer distracted victims, they also prefer not to be seen and later identified. Look everyone you pass in the eyes, and keep your eyes (and ears) peeled for anything that looks or feels suspicious.

Looking people in the eyes is a sign of confidence and boldness, which are two things attackers don’t want in a victim. They tend to look for victims who appear meek and unlikely to fight back. Look everyone you meet in the eye to let them know you’re paying full attention and won’t go quietly. 

5. Jog with a partner when possible

In a perfect world, you won’t run or jog alone. There’s strength in numbers. Criminals don’t prefer to take on a duo with more power to fight back and more eyes to identify them. Take along a friend or running partner (who could also be a large dog!). This is a win-win for everyone involved.