I am in no way trying to belittle the news story mentioned in this post or take away from the tragic thing that happened. It is really sad and I think it’s something that needs to be addressed and people need to be aware of. The article just brought to light to me a very important issue among runners that I thought I would address… running safety and running alone.
This week I am down in my old stomping grounds of San Luis Obispo for some accounting training. I love this area and was really excited to be here as a runner this time, since I was far from one when I lived here in college.
After my class on Monday, I threw on my running clothes, my Road ID, and my iFitness belt so I could carry my phone and money, and off I went excited to explore the city by foot.
I had been searching for some good running routes and saw the trailhead for Madonna Mountain wasn’t far from where I was. I thought it would be fun to check it out since I never had before, plus get some great views of SLO. It was around 5pm, so I still had an hour+ of daylight, but when I got to the trail I didn’t plan on going far since I didn’t know exactly where I was going or how soon the sun would set. I just wanted to get a little dirt under my feet, climb some hills and get a pretty view.
As I got to the trailhead I saw a guy with a big camera, a girl with a note pad and two guys talking to them. It looked like they were being interviewed for something, but I didn’t think much of it and just ran by. As I was running by I heard the camera start clicking a bunch and figured I was about to the background of their picture. I wasn’t too concerned and I made my way up the mountain to get my view.
I only ran maybe a mile up the mountain before I decided to turn around. I didn’t want my curiosity to get the better of me and be up there in the dark. I saw a few other people on their way up as well, including a couple women who were solo, but I still continued my way down back to the street.
I made it to the bottom and finished my run elsewhere on the streets. 7 miles later I was back to where I started and it was still light out. I kind of kicked myself for not going further on the mountain but I didn’t know and was trying to be safe.
Fast forward to Tuesday morning, I was walking through my class and noticed a newspaper with a familiar picture on the front. I immediately got online when I got to my computer and went to the newspaper’s website and sure enough there I was, the “solo jogger” in the background.
At first I laughed, thinking of course this had to happen and of course he jumped to his camera when I ran by since it was perfect timing for their story. Then the whole “solo jogger” going up the mountain with the caption “take another person with you” underneath it, inferring that I was being unsafe just because I was alone, rubbed me the wrong way… because I wasn’t being unsafe.
I go out of my way to be safe when I run. I typically carry pepper spray when I am alone and it’s dark, and even when it’s light sometimes. I always have my Road ID or some sort of identification, money and my phone. I change my routes based on the time of day and whether or not it light out. I know I take a lot more precautions than some people do, but I would just rather be safe than sorry.
It got me thinking a lot about running alone and running safety. I hate that I get scared sometimes on runs. I hate that I have to think about it so much and have to take so many precautions. I just want to be able to run by myself and not have to worry about it so much, but sadly that’s just not always the case.
It’s always better to be safe than sorry, but where do you draw the line?
I just can’t give up my alone running time and always run with people. And I can’t force myself onto the awful “safe” treadmill when I have beautiful areas to run around outside.
It’s not even close to the same.
So what do you think? Do you run alone? Do you take a lot of extra precautions when you go run? Do you change running routines to be safer? Where do you draw your safety line?