August 29 2016
"There’s a difference between being scared while you run and being too scared to run."
I’m sorry, I’m not stopping.
His response said it all. He didn’t get it.
I was running along my favorite paved trail this morning when up ahead a saw a car turn around at a crossing and stop right at the trail. I made eye contact with the driver as he turned around and something didn’t feel right. I kept running and as I got closer he got out of his car and said excuse me as started walking towards me. After the excuse me I didn’t hear anything else he said, my mind was occupied.
My mind was busy profiling him, whether it was something I consciously wanted to do or not. Did this look like someone who really needed to ask me something? Was this someone who wanted to ask me something so he could grab me?
He looked harmless – but my gut said – keep running.
What does harmless look like, I asked myself. What does someone dangerous look like?
I’m almost 2 miles from my car.
I didn’t bring my phone with me.
No one knows that I went running and where I started.
I don’t have anything to defend myself.
I don’t have enough energy to even attempt to fight someone off if that’s the way this goes.
I don’t want my kids to lose their mom.
I’m going to say sorry and hope that this person, if they are harmless, realizes that it’s scary to approach a woman who is alone while she is running.
The truth is we don’t know what someone looks like who is going to attack us. They could look like your neighbor, they could be well dressed, they could be older – you simply don’t know what someone is going to look like that has ill intentions.
Maybe I offended this man, but I’m less concerned about how he took my words – I’m sorry, I’m not stopping – and am more concerned with keeping myself safe on a run.
It is unfortunate that this is a reality for female runners.
Not long ago I was running at 5-something in the morning around my town. It was dark and I ran down a road I don’t typically run on in the dark hours of the morning. I saw a man dressed in black walk out of the woods up ahead. At one point I actually questioned whether it was even a person because of where it was in the shadows of the street light.
I made a split second decision and turned around. I ran fast because I knew once I turned around I wasn’t really going to be able to see what was following behind me. I had passed two men earlier on my run and sprinted to catch up to them. When I got closer they said good morning and I told them what happened. I told them it was probably nothing but that I wanted to get ahead of them so I felt safer. One week later a woman was assaulted right where I had been running. It could have been nothing that morning, or it could have been something and I saved myself by turning around and listening to my gut. I’ll never know. What I do know is that it’s always better to err on the side of caution.
So this morning I said – I’m sorry, I’m not stopping – and I don’t regret it.