Weighing fear and safety 

I went running alone today. As I have for the majority of my runs since graduating college and no longer having a team to run with. When I got home I texted my mom to tell her about the crazy storm that hit anout 30 minutes post-run and mentioned that I was glad it hadn’t arrived sooner. 

 

The oncoming storm.

 
Her response was that I should tell my neighbors every time I run or bike alone. First off, there is no way I’m waking my neighbors up when I do a pre-work run. Second, I’m not close enough with my neighbors that they’d actually worry and come rescue me off a mountain in a lightening storm. Third, I do tell someone (friend or MM) where in going if I’m doing a long run or hike on trails because I could get lost/injured and need rescuing. Less so on a 2-3 mile run through town or ride along the (busy but generally bike-friendly) highway, where hopefully passers-by would call an ambulance if I was found unconscious/severely injured (otherwise I could call for help – I run and ride with my cell) or discourage potential attackers of the animal or human variety. 

 

Always reassuring to find dead, potentially large-predator indicating things on the trail :-S

 
So my mother’s suggestion, though born of care and concern, struck me as less of a practical suggestion and more a reminder that I must never forget to be in the mindset of a prey animal when venturing outside alone. On the one hand, caution is good – it improves the odds of safety at least. On the other hand, I’ve been on runs where I was somehow reminded of my vulnerability (read about an assault on the news, reminded to be careful by family member, it was dark out, heard a creepy sounds in the bushes, got cat called, etc) and spent the whole run peering over my shoulder with a pounding heart and tight throat, picking up the pace whenever I passed by a potential attacker/predator hiding spot or a suspicious figure. I’ve spent runs wondering if the footsteps behind me are an innocent fellow runner or a patiently stalking menace. And whether I’ll be able to outsprint  them in the latter case…

 

potential dangers: snakes, bears, moose, homicidal day-hikers, getting distracted by scenery & falling off the trail…

 
Scared runs are so much less enjoyable than the runs where I forget that I’m a small woman running alone and run sans fear. This is part of why I resist carrying pepper spray. I don’t want to start every run feeling like I’m entering a dangerous activity that requires the potential use of a weapon.

 

Maybe i should think of pepper spray or runner-tracking apps like i do a bike helmet – smart precaution, somehow decouple from fear?

 
I can’t decide if I’m being a fool for not preparing or just refusing to let paranoia rob me of my ability to enjoy outdoor exercise…

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One thought on “Weighing fear and safety 

  1. Hm, on further thought, I can at least be grateful that, as a small white woman, I’m unlikely to be incorrectly classified as a threat or viewed with suspicion while out running/biking/walking. That would also be majorly sucky and also potentially dangerous :-/

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