No, we’re not referring to “running and gunning” – we’re talking about the practice of carrying concealed at all times, even when you’re trying to beat that 2-mile record or going for a simple sidewalk jog. First, let’s address a controversy: Some say running with your firearm can be dangerous or, at least, a hindrance. Many say that running and carrying presents discomfort and the risk of your firearm becoming dislodged. These two concerns can be easily laid to rest with two considerations: A good holster and a little test-run.
Carrying While Running is a Safety Necessity
We’ll get to how you can avoid those concerns in a little bit, but first, why run and carry? All those “Cold Case” episodes on late-night TV should be enough reason: Runners are often targeted by threats because they’re the perfect potential victims. If you’re a runner you’re likely focused on the exercise and the 10 to 20 feet ahead of you, which means you’re completely distracted from the environment around you. Few people like to run without a good beat playing, and chances are you’re running with headphones plugged in – furthering the disconnect from the environment you’re in. Lastly, with every step you take you’re giving your threat the opportunity to follow you and plan an attack at an optimal point: A point where no one is around, where you’re secluded, or where you’re out of ear shot of passersby. In short, being a runner means accepting vulnerability – but you don’t have to become a victim.
Carrying is the Only Real Defense
You can vary your route and the times you run, but carrying concealed is the only surefire way to stop an attacker while you’re treading in your sneakers. This is especially important for women, who are shown to be targeted exponentially more often than men when running. Sex and gender aside, women running simply get perceived as victims more easily, and men are most often the would-be attacker. That said, it’s been shown that female gun owners can reduce the risk of sexual assault and theft by 15 times once they decide to own and carry. With the FBI reporting over 1.16 violent crimes in the US (including rape, murder, robbery and assault), it’s underscored how important it is that you don’t become a statistic.
How to Carry Comfortably While Running
Now that we’ve established the importance of exercising your right to carry at all times – even running – let’s look at how one can do so comfortably and safely. Running with your handgun of choice requires more consideration than simply carrying throughout your other daily routines: You need a holster that’ll not only keep your gun snug and secure, but will also keep snug to your frame while running, sweating and moving around actively for long periods of time.
Meeting these criteria means getting a holster that’s elastic. A non-flexible holster, even a cloth one, will be difficult to secure to your body without a lot of tension from a belt or strap – and that’s not comfortable by any measure. Since your running attire likely consists of elastic-wait pants, a light t-shirt, and little else, you’ll need a holster with a built-in retention system that’s comfortable against your skin. Luckily for us, the industry has responded to the explosion of concealed carry permits being issued nationwide and holster builders have recognized this un-tapped market – and that’s good for you:
This innovative yet simple holster solution is a favorite among runners. As the name implies, the Belly Band Holster wraps around your waist with a cloth elastic material and presents two compartments for use: One for your handgun of choice, and one for a spare magazine. There are variations of the Belly Band Holster, but generally speaking they can be had for anywhere between $5 and $40. Price fluctuates wildly based on the number of compartments, the material used to construct the holster, and the quality of stitching and seaming, but the concept remains the same.
The original Liris Belly Band Holster, luckily, comes in at the low end of the price spectrum – for about $18 you can have one shipped to your door, ready to carry. It’s made of neoprene, a perfect material for skin contact and active movements. Neoprene resists bacterial growth and stays cool, wicking away heat and moisture, so it’s perfect for runners. Neoprene is the stuff that wet suits are made out of, for reference. The holster secures with simple Velcro hook-and-loop fasteners and it comes with extra compartments for cash or IDs. This is a one-size-fits-all solution for runners – it can be adjusted to fit up to 45” waists. The nice part about the Belly Band is it can be worn high or low. If you don’t want a “hip hugger” holster, simply readjust and place the rig higher up your torso.
The Belly Band’s holster compartment is universal fit, too. It’s designed to carry most handguns up to standard full-size frames like a 1911, all the down to subcompact .380s, like a S&W Bodyguard. A simple button snap secures your handgun in the holster with a removable strap, and you’re ready to run. The Belly Band receives high ratings from customers who wear it for extended periods of time, so it’s likely to be a great choice for your running and concealed carry needs.
Why The Waist is Best
If you haven’t caught on, we strongly recommend you maintain your carrying method around the waist when running. There are ankle holsters and traditional waistband holsters that could function while running, but these method present problems: Your low waist, hips and legs are doing all the moving and those types of holsters are not designed to stay tensioned against the body like a by-design belly band holster. Running will ultimately cause these holsters to shift and become loose-fitting, and you could even risk losing your handgun in the process. This is where many folks take issue with running and carrying concealed – they try methods that aren’t meant to be with poor results. However, with the right consideration – like a proper holster – running and carrying concealed is just as comfortable as any other routine, if not more comfortable.
Drawing in Defense While Running
Read any personal experiences, blogs, or testimonies of runners being attacked and you’ll see a pattern that’s unmistakable: She or he is well into their routine, focused, unaware of those around her or him, when they feel a perpetrator make contact with them from behind. The perpetrator usually makes them trip and fall and quickly takes advantage of their fall. The runner is now pinned with movement severely restricted and the perpetrator begins attempting to control the runner. This scenario – which is by far the most likely you’ll encounter – presents enormous challenges in drawing your concealed carry weapon. Practicing for this encounter is crucial, and if you do not practice, you will not be able to protect yourself. This is a fact.
Running, Falling and Drawing Drills
Again, thanks to the rising popularity of carrying concealed, more instructors and classes are teaching gun owners how to react in this scenario. There is simply no better way to prepare for this scenario than to go through the movements. We highly recommend enrolling in a class that teaches this exercise and method of carry because they can provide crucial tips and instruction, but you can practice at home with a partner, too.
Practicing this method is crudely simple: Wear your running attire, strap your weapon to your frame with your carry method, and let your “attacker”, well, attack. Tell him or her to hold nothing back, get them to attempt to subdue you and restrict your arms and legs as much as possible. Let them tackle you and take you down. This is a critical part of training to react to a threat while running, you cannot cut corners.
Your attacker will attempt to make you fall by tripping you or grabbing you to throw you off balance, so you should practice how to stabilize your body during your run if you’re ever targeted. Attempting to twist and roll while falling will help aid you when you hit the ground. Landing on your face and stomach will likely stun you and offer your attacker more control and opportunity. Twisting and rolling will help you land with at least one side of your body free and with more movement, giving you leverage against the live weight on top of you.
Reacting quickly to a threat before they obtain control is critical. You should practice reactionary hits against your attacker the second they make contact with you. Practice foot, knee and elbow hits against your attacker, focusing on their sensitive areas – lungs, stomach, kidneys, eyes, face. Yes, genital hits are a best practice and we strongly recommend them. When you’re fighting for your life, nothing is sacred.
Learning to draw quickly from a belly band holster requires a little more practice because of its placement. You’ll have to get used to the act of drawing from a higher position on your body, which requires you to raise your shirt and bend your arm at an acute angle – and you should practice doing all of this with one hand, both dominant and non-dominant. This is critical because you’ll need to continue making defensive moves against your attacker while you draw. He or she will not pause their advance after you land your first hit. You must continue preventing them from taking control while simultaneously drawing.
There’s quite a bit to consider if you want to carry concealed during your usual run. To recap:
• If you’re on the fence, do it! Carrying is the only surefire defense
• Invest in a good, by-design holster (we recommend the Belly Band Holster)
• Practice reacting to an attacker’s first hit
• Practice drawing from a compromised position
• Go on a test-run with your holster