I pride myself on being a tough chick—even if I’m not tough on the inside.
I think this is due to growing up in the era of Oprah Winfrey and Phil Donahue who both had talk shows that continuously, it seemed to me as a young girl, encouraged women to watch out for predators and protect themselves.
For the past few weeks I have been thinking about safety and how we really should be consciously aware of our surroundings, trust our intuition and our gut feelings. I’ve always followed the creed that we should be aware of what and who is around us, although lately I have been lax with this concept.
The recent deaths of three female runners has made me reevaluate my safety. It has also made me feel afraid.
I remember how I used to be so aware—especially if I was out at night or walking to my car. Yet their deaths happened in daylight when our attention is most likely on other things—errands, lists, dinner, work, relationships.
The runners were running on nature trails, which are for many of us, our sanctuary—spending time in nature gives us time to escape our daily lives, enabling us to be present and focused in the moment. It makes me feel sad and angry that these girls were doing something that they loved and were not safe doing it.
I run. I’m not a marathoner yet, but I am out there running. I think about runner safety.
How can we be more safe?
Honestly the stubborn side of me says damnit—we are safe—we are tough beings. But we actually need to have safety built into our daily behaviors. Stubbornness in this area is not the best course of action.
Awareness, consciousness and conversations are ways to become more safe.
In order for us to be more safe we need to incorporate safeguards and have conversations with men and women—our brothers, fathers, boyfriends, lovers, husbands and friends.
So, let’s talk and facilitate awareness of favorable and unfavorable behaviors. Like one morning when I was running, a man veered toward me in his car and pronounces his undying love for my a**. Even though I work hard on my hamstrings to help me during long runs, yet this wasn’t the most favorable time to let me know.
Here are some ways I keep myself safe when I run.
I love music when I run, so I’ve started wearing only one earbud. Another choice for music use is to keep the volume low. While I’m running on trails, I don’t listen to any music. This helps me have a clear mind and allows me to observe my surroundings.
2.~Carry protection. Some women carry mace or openly carry a weapon. It’s also safe to tell someone when you expect to be home.
3. Safety in numbers. I have noticed my fellow (female) runners running in pairs.
I am proud to run, even though I am afraid.
I want to say f*ck the fear, but I don’t truly mean it. What helps to keep us safe is a little diligence, fear and awareness—mixed with some stubbornness. I want to keep running—I think the three deceased female runners would also want us to keep running.
Today I ran for my three fellow runners. I ran with some fear and stubbornness through the trails.
While we run for ourselves let’s also run for each other.
Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock