Today was a beautiful day for a run over lunch! There were a lot of people around, and it didn’t even occur to me whether or not I would be safe while I ran. At least safe from people. Running downtown in the city I live in does come with some safety concerns with regard to vehicles you need to look out for. I will also admit that sometimes I get very impatient (okay, most of the time) when I have to wait for cars to pass, or a light indicating whether or not I can go or I need to wait. I am guilty of mostly just going if I don’t see cars coming-something easy to do when there are one way streets where you are running! Aside from the traffic concern, and maybe the occasional pedestrian walking slowly so I may have to run around them and try to avoid potential holes in grass or other questionable terrain, nothing else has concerned me.
In hindsight, this may be why I run over lunch, because I will admit, on those occasional weekdays that I can’t get my run in over my lunch hour, and I run at night, I stick close to home. On a typical evening run, I’m not getting out of my house until well after 8, sometimes 8:30, and now that we are getting closer to fall, it is beginning to get darker at night. My concerns during this time are twofold: traffic not seeing me as I typically try to run in the street due to the more even terrain, and dogs that people do not always keep on leashes (you’d be surprised how often this happens, and the owner likes to blame the runner for daring to be out running). Do I concern myself with the potential strange man that might be trying to lurk in a bush and jump out to attack? No. Do I concern myself with someone driving by trying to potentially stalk me? No. Should I? Apparently so, in light of recent events.
This angers me greatly. The recent tragedy of the attack and death of Mollie Tibbetts while out running has hit close to home for many runners, myself included. Most likely in my case it is because it occurred close in a state next to my home state. Of course I’ve heard the stories of attacks on runners before-on the East coast or the West coast, but when it hits so close to home, it really makes you think. So I put my own running routine into perspective.
Do I need to be more careful when I run? I think some additional caution is a good idea. I realize the importance of maintaining my own safety in order to pass on that wisdom to my children-especially my daughters-should they ever inherit my joy of running. Part of this is conveyed when I make sure I tell my husband when I’m leaving, and how long I plan to be gone-as well as the route I plan to take-especially if I venture outside my neighborhood. Which brings me to another point of frustration. I simply do not venture outside my neighborhood at night, or if it is getting dark, period. As a grown woman, I have not done that in a long time, unless I am running with someone. I do recall running outside of my neighborhood a couple of years ago, and feeling a sense of foreboding as it was getting dark. There really was nothing to be afraid of, but when all those stories are out there and all those women are being targeted as they are trying to do something to make them more fit, happier, and healthier, it really makes you think as a woman “could I be next?”.
It is unfair that living in today’s society, as a woman who loves to run, I have to be so careful to stay safe whenever I venture out to run. But it’s reality. Truth be told, anybody who chooses to go running/biking/hiking/walking/whatever at night, or close to night time, should be careful-man or woman. But the reality does stand that women are the most likely targets of violence statistically.
So I still run, but I’m careful about it. I run with friends-and I run alone with my headphones on. But I keep one ear open and have my other ear occupied with the music-just to be safe.
Running today I thought of Mollie and just how young she was, out there running, and I thought back to how I felt when I was her age. At 20, was I careful when I ran? To an extent, yes, as I’m sure she was. At 20, I was also very much a woman that didn’t put up with anything from anyone. So when I read in the news that she told that man to leave her alone or she would call the police (I’m paraphrasing here, obviously, but something like that), I just thought to myself “Wow, what a strong woman!” I wish she had actually had time to make that call.
It’s so tragic that this happened to such a promising woman, just starting out and still learning about life, with so much to give, and probably even so much more to learn from running itself (I know I’m a much stronger runner today than when I was 20).
In summary, I plan to dedicate each and every one of my runs to Mollie Tibbetts for the next month, to pay tribute to her strength in the face of danger, and to pay tribute to all women who are understandably in a little more fear as they go out for their next run.
Run safe, everyone!