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…


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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