Can I just start by recognizing how wonderful the running community is? While none of us knew Mollie Tibbets, we felt like we did. Because she was someone who enjoyed running. She was one of us. Simple as that.
Lately I’ve been thinking about all the runners who have been attacked on their runs – too many of those stories the past few years. Today, like many runners, I joined in running #MilesforMollie and dedicating my run to Mollie.
It was a particularly foggy morning and it was still dark at 6 a.m. Chris was leaving early for a golf tournament so I knew I couldn’t wait for the sun to come up; I needed to get out the door, and be home and showered by 7 to see him off and be ready for Abel’s start to the day.
Luckily I was planning a shorter run so, even though it was humid and warm, I was able to take Burton with me. He’s 25 pounds and more bark than bite but something about having him with me makes me feel safer. I enjoy running without headphones and haven’t used them for years so that wasn’t a worry. Chris knows my typical short morning routes and knew when to expect me home so I had that in my head.
Yet, even with all this, I still found myself looking over my shoulder far more than usual.
I honestly never used to feel unsafe running outside. Only within the past year or two, as more and more stories have been shared of runners being attacked, have I been a little scared each time I run outside.
Scared enough I avoid some of my favorite trails because they’re too secluded.
Scared enough I go through an escape plan in my head of where I’ll sprint to if someone were to approach me.
Scared enough I run at a pace that gives me enough energy that I could sprint at any given time, if needed.
Scared enough I put my hair in a bun because a ponytail or braid is easier to grab.
Scared enough I’m seriously considering running with my phone or mace on every run.
Scared enough that I’m no longer afraid of being hit by a car, I’m afraid of being forced into one.
Scared enough that I have a jogger stroller but I’m not sure I even want to use it (mess with me, okay but mess with my son – oh HELL NO).
Scared enough that – while only once – I’ve skipped an early morning run because my gut told me it was a bad idea.
While I no longer have the 100% safe feeling of running outside that I used to, I refuse to stop doing it altogether. I love running and I love running outside. If the opportunity to continue doing it means I have to look over my shoulder more often, stick to boring main roads and well-lit neighborhoods, and carry mace, I’ll do it.
What I won’t do is be scared into giving it up. Runners are strong. We’re a community that supports each other, even if we don’t know each other. We’re going to keep going.
Have recent years made you more fearful of running outside? Do you take new precautions you never thought you would? Comment or tweet me, @LindsayIRL.