The Solo Jogger

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.

Pretty view, definitely worth it.
photo (2)

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.

Oh look, there I go!
photo (1)

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.

photo (3)   

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?

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64 Responses to The Solo Jogger

  1. Beth October 26, 2011 at 4:15 pm #

    Safety when running alone is definitely something I think about a lot, especially now that it’s getting darker earlier. I’m always really careful to have my Road ID and wear lots of bright colors, and just generally never to run alone in the dark. When it’s light out though, I do run alone regularly, but I try to be careful to run in well traveled areas. I wouldn’t do more deserted trails by myself. It’s a tough balance to strike. Safety is obviously important, but fear can be destructive. All you can do is use common sense, and always at least have ID!

  2. Lisa Fine October 26, 2011 at 4:21 pm #

    Oh, creepy.

    I usually run alone, but go during the day, I always let people know where I am, and I tend to stick to streets (though certainly roads aren’t always the safest because of traffic).

    One time I saw a bear on a run, which was really scary, and an indicator of where I’d been living the last several years. That actually made me think more about safety and running than anything else. :)

    • Aron October 28, 2011 at 2:15 pm #

      Animals are what scare me on trail runs too!

  3. Amber from Girl with the Red Hair October 26, 2011 at 4:22 pm #

    Great post! How funny you ended up being in that story! I actually clicked over to the story before reading your blog post and didn’t realize it was you at first :)

    Part of why I love running so much is the opportunity to run alone. I try not to go on trails *too* much alone but will admit I’ve been venturing on them A LOT more by myself now that we have the puppy because when she’s full-grown I want her to be a good trail running partner for me! I also always tell someone where I’m going, where my Road ID and take my cell phone with me when I am running on trails alone (not always when I’m running around my neighbourhood I will admit…).

    I agree Aron, I’m not willing to give up my solo running time + running in some of the most beautiful places ever either. I think that going during daylight/peak hours when there are likely lots of other people on the trail (like when you ran on that trail) is a good idea.

    Very sad about that man though :(

  4. XLMIC October 26, 2011 at 4:37 pm #

    I feel really safe when I run alone in my neighborhood at night and less so when I run in the hills alone in the day. I need a RoadID thing. When I run in the hills, my phone doesn’t even work. When I do it alone, I call someone right before I lose connection and give them my whereabouts and tell them when I’ll be done and that I’ll call them when I finish and give a time by which they can begin to freak out if they don’t hear from me. It’s hard for me to coordinate much because I have a bunch of kids and so can’t get away when most people can.

    • Aron October 28, 2011 at 2:15 pm #

      Ahhh yes good call on the phone reception because that’s very true out in the hills!

  5. Tory October 26, 2011 at 4:38 pm #

    I think about running safety a lot too. My boyfriend doesn’t run (yet!) and so I take my dog most of the time. He’s pretty big and I feel safe running any time with him. If it’s daylight, and I’m running with him, I listen to music. If it’s dark, I leave the music at home regardless.

    It’s tough to call it, though, especially as a girl. When is a person being creepy? How do you judge? I think what gives me the most confidence is thinking that as long as I’m not tackled/surprised, I can run away from danger. But the dog helps, too!

    • Aron October 28, 2011 at 2:16 pm #

      I definitely feel safer with my dogs with me!! I always leave my music at home in the dark too.

  6. JLA October 26, 2011 at 4:47 pm #

    I run by myself a lot, but I always trust my gut. If it seems shady or something doesn’t feel right, I turn around. Also, I have a must see other women running rule. If I don’t see other women running solo, then I nix the run.

  7. Carlos October 26, 2011 at 4:53 pm #

    I am the worst about safety. Not only do ALWAYS run alone, but most times I don’t carry anything with me. I like my excuses:
    -no pockets
    -don’t want the extra weight
    -I have to get the miles in.
    -I won’t be gone long

    This one time I was up in Dayton, OH for a weekend and I set off at 4am for an 18mile run…mostly on a trail that I had never been on, nobody knew where I was going or when to expect me back. At least this time I took my phone. The thing is I wasn’t scared, call it my level alertness from being in the Army, call it stupidity. I had done my homework:
    -crime stats for the trail.
    -checked with the police
    -carried a certain protective item (completely legal)
    -studied the trail until I was seeing it my sleep.
    -I knew how far I had to travel between turns.
    -no music until the sun came up
    I felt prepared…my thing is…take the risk that you can handle

    If I had a friend or two who were willing to run with me, I would welcome them, even for a mile or two.

  8. Devon @FastFoodie October 26, 2011 at 4:53 pm #

    I’ve done some crazy solo running. Back country, trails, or even city running in the middle of the night. I usually take some sort of precaution (like telling someone before I go, etc). I take extra precautions when running solo in the dark in the city. I am smart about it.

    But with some trail runs, some times it is just impossible to find a buddy, so I go it alone. There is risk involved in all of life, so I just make sure that the risks I take while running are calculated ones not stupid ones!

  9. Ana-Maria October 26, 2011 at 5:08 pm #

    I am freaked out when running alone at night. I try not to do it, but sometimes is unavoidable. I am just super careful, no music, phone on hand. During the day I have no problem running sole, though I confess I never go trail running alone mostly bc the trail I like is not populate much.

  10. Tim Wilson October 26, 2011 at 5:11 pm #

    I run alone most of the time. I am a guy obviously which I hope I don’t offend anyone by saying makes me feel a bit safer. I do feel safe most of the time, however there have been some times and places that I have put myself in that I shouldn’t have. Although as a guy I feel safer at times, as the article shows, this was a man as well and he obviously wasn’t any safer because of it.

    I do most of my running in the early morning before dawn when I am on my normal running schedule and I see many women out by themselves and I am happy that they have a safe enough place to run solo and feel safe, however I have yet to let my daughter run in the dark by herself, or even with her friends.

    I try to be fully aware of my surroundings and honestly the most fearful times I have had were at 4:30 and 5:00 am when I hear cars come up behind me really slow or when they slow down after passing me. Luckily it is usually just a police checking me out, but I have had some uncomfortable times in all the pre-dawn hours I have put in.

    That, along with the love of running, has been one of the more important things I have taught my daughter about running – to be fully aware of her surroundings. One day as we were running and talking about this I saw a white panel van sitting in the turn lane parked. I explained to her that a van like that should peak her interest and she should watch it carefully.

    That is scary that you were running up there solo after that occurred, however kinda funny that you just happened to be the one that they got in their picture.

  11. Megan October 26, 2011 at 5:23 pm #

    I usually run alone and I always carry my pepper spray and road id. I’ll listen to music, but it’s so low that I can hear my footsteps, and in only one ear at a time. My husband always knows exactly where I’m going, but now we’re running together more often.

  12. Nelly October 26, 2011 at 5:26 pm #

    Whoa, crazy that you got into the background of a story! It is pretty obvious that they were trying to paint you as the bad solo jogger, but I guess you can’t always win in life. I hope you picked up a hard copy of the paper!

    I think running solo pretty much all the time is okay, but the #1 rule should be that everyone should have some sort of ID – I have road ID on my shoe. You never know if you will need to be identified or need help but can’t speak for yourself.

    I normally don’t carry money or a phone, I should probably at least carry money, even if I don’t carry a phone.

    While I do take precautions on trying to be safe while running, its impossible to be 100% foolproof safe. If I die out on the trails, at least I was doing something that I loved.

  13. Jana October 26, 2011 at 5:40 pm #

    I agree with you, safety first, but that doesn’t mean giving up my independence. I am OK running alone if it is an area I know OR if there are enough people around. If I know I am running solo for a distance longer than say 5 miles, I typically will email a friend saying “Running to X, will be back by X time, if you don’t hear from me, try getting a hold of me, if that doesn’t work, call the police” and I always email when I get back to let that person know I made it home.

    Oddly enough, I fear dogs & wild animals more than people :-P

  14. Laura October 26, 2011 at 5:54 pm #

    Great blog entry, Aron. I do run solo, but choose not to run alone at night unless I’m on a busier street. If I head out at night anytime after 6, I always wear my head lamp, just in case I need it, along with a reflective hat or light colored shirt. I take my pepper spray with me when I run alone because even in my neighborhood I can get creeped out. I always carry my phone and should wear my Road ID more often. It also depends on the place I’m running. Are there lots of people? Is it well lit? All factors in picking an evening run location. My boyfriend chooses to run in the dark, with a headlamp of course, but I worry because of the reason I started running.

    I can’t remember if I’ve told you about why I started running, but in case I haven’t… my friend was hit by a car while running, was in a coma and is still recovering 4+ years later. She was running in the morning, had her iPod on and the car that hit her simply didn’t see her. She also didn’t have ID on her so she was a Jane Doe in the hospital for a few days. I started running because she was a marathon runner and couldn’t run and I had always wanted to run. Her accident always makes me think twice about whether I should be running solo. Am I in a safe place? Am I taking the best precautions?

    I say it’s better to be safe than sorry and you took the best precautions for the situation you were in. :) I always try to be overly safe no matter how cheesy I feel just because I know that terrible accidents can happen and I don’t want to be involved in one.

    Happy running everyone! :)

    • Aron October 28, 2011 at 3:30 pm #

      Wow that is an intense scary story! What a way to get started in running. Thanks for sharing – good for everyone to think about!

      • Laura October 28, 2011 at 4:12 pm #

        Thanks Aron! Proud to say my friend is continuing to improve daily and lives here in Sacramento, still working at UC Davis in the research department. She was a doctor in the second week of her residency when the accident occurred. I’m confident she will run again one day. :)

  15. Krissy October 26, 2011 at 6:14 pm #

    I really hate that this is an issue. I wish I could run anytime and anywhere. I am overly cautious and only run alone if it is in my own neighborhood or at a park. And during the day. I don’t run alone in the dark or on trails. I wish I felt safe doing so, because trails are the prettiest way to run and of course the hours of day light are working against us now. We have had several issues over the past few years with women being killed on trails. It is so sad and scary. I wish there was a solution!

  16. Siena October 26, 2011 at 6:14 pm #

    I pretty much always run alone but try to never run when its dark outside. If the sun is just coming up in the morning I will run on trails where I know has a lot of people!

  17. x-country2 October 26, 2011 at 6:42 pm #

    For me, I HAVE to be around cars and people. I feel safer running in the street than I do alone on a trail. Even a bike trail. I would never run in an isolated area. No matter how pretty the view. :o)

  18. Shannon @ Mon Amour October 26, 2011 at 6:42 pm #

    I would much rather run outside than on a treadmill too. I try to be as safe as possible by carrying pepper spray, wearing reflective gear, and bringing my phone with me. I always tell someone where I am going and how long I should be gone for. I try to pick routes where there are a lot of people and help wouldn’t be far away

  19. Kristine @ Running on Hungry October 26, 2011 at 7:26 pm #

    I more than agree with you on safety first and I hate that it even has to be an issue for us. Imagine the freedom our parents and grandparents had when they were our age!

    Honestly if it’s dark out, I don’t risk it. In the winter when it gets dark at 4:30 I head for the treadmill, and enjoy the outdoor runs on the weekends that much more. I get scared really easily and I’d just rather not be out in the city in the dark – morning or night, you just never know.

  20. RunningLaur October 26, 2011 at 8:11 pm #

    It’s cool that you got to see the clip / photo, even if it wasn’t perhaps a message you’d want attached with it.

    Usually, I don’t mind running alone – but I’m really only comfortable with it during the daylight (within the last year especially) and fairly local to Phoenix. I’ve done more hiking and walking while traveling, because I feel more comfortable with it I suppose.
    On tonight’s run I actually bailed early and cut from the trail to a major street because there were just too many homeless guys around – made me very uncomfortable and stuck with my gut to get out of there.

  21. Sesa October 26, 2011 at 8:43 pm #

    I run outside, in the dark, at least twice a week now. Yeah it isn’t ideal, but I already spend one day a week on the treadmill and I’d get so bored if ALL of my runs were inside.

    During my dark runs I wear a headlamp, and when an area looks kind of sketchy I take my earphones off. I also have a reflective vest and pepper spray. Need to buy a Road I.D.

    I think that no matter how many precautions we take, there is going to be some risk to running outdoors, even in the daylight. I accept those risks and run anyway. Honestly, I’m more scared about dogs, mountain lions and other animals than people.

  22. Lazy chick October 26, 2011 at 8:54 pm #

    I love running alone. Dont get me wrong, I enjoy company sometimes, but running is “me” time, and I really enjoy it! Running with others sometimes is a lot of pressure.. Pressure to perform, pressure to keep up, etc. that said, I still remember one time I ran at a gym attached to the hotel but require me to walk outside of the hotel to get to and from hotel. It was 11pm at night and I saw a scary looking man standing in front of the elevator to the hotel garage, I made eye contact with him and freaked out. I ran…. My friend told me I should not have done that because that means I was afraid, what if he chased me?! Oh well….

  23. Melissa October 26, 2011 at 9:21 pm #

    I do about 90% of my outdoor running alone. I know my routes and know which ones are safe(r) and have certain ones I would never run in the dark. Most trails I would not run alone but there are a couple of *very* well traveled ones that I run all of the time…have been racing daylight before on those and it was a little freaky, more because I couldn’t see my feet not so much that I was worried about human or animal danger.

    I was running downtown (where I work) tonight and was finishing very close to sunset. I noticed a couple of shady characters in my peripheral and admittedly got nervous and really picked up the pace to get back to my car. This is an area I WILL NOT run after Daylight Savings.

    I almost always run with my handheld and it has an extra copy of my ID and some cash. I’m not always great about carrying my phone but I always let someone know my intended route before I head out.

    • Aron October 28, 2011 at 3:31 pm #

      Totally agree – I definitely have my “dark” running routes and ones I will only run in the daylight.

  24. lilgreenfish October 26, 2011 at 10:07 pm #

    I always run alone. I haven’t found anyone who will a) run with me and b) is at my pace. But as I constantly drink during my runs (it mitigates my asthma, I found out one day), I have a Camelbak. I don’t carry pepper spray or anything, but I always have my cell phone and my drivers license. And depending on where my run goes, some money/bus pass in case I die halfway through and need to grab a bus/cab back.

    And I always let someone know when I go running, and about how long I’ll be gone. And I don’t run at night (did it once…accidentally).

    The thing I worry about most, when I run at my parents house, is a tourist being stupid and running in to me. Or a motorcyclist playing dumb and driving the bike in the pedestrian/bicycle lane. And almost running in to me. (He wiped out instead…).

  25. Eliza October 26, 2011 at 11:48 pm #

    My two cents: I have totally been guilty of running and hiking alone (during daylight). Once, I was doing a 12-mile trail run alone in Big Sur. It started out gorgeous and sunny but then became super foggy. I had stopped to look at my map (because I wanted to turn around instead of running the loop) and then along came a super sketchy dude, complimenting my figure, asking to take my picture (!) etc – I became acutely aware of just how vulnerable I was. I flew down that trail like nobody’s business. But I will never hike/run in unknown territory alone again.

    Re: pepper spray, unless you have it in your hand at all times ready to go, it’s not likely to do any good. And even then, it is just as likely to be used against you. Most self-defense training advocates against it.

    Also re: these issues, I highly recommend The Gift of Fear by Gavin Becker.

    • Aron October 28, 2011 at 3:33 pm #

      Thanks for the tips!! I have a pepper spray that is made to go on your hand (has a strap that goes around), but like you said you have to make sure its pointing the right way – getting caught off guard could defeat the purpose.

  26. Britney October 27, 2011 at 4:21 am #

    I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately – there have been a number of assaults in my area recently and we’re getting to the time of year where no matter when I run, it’s dark (and I’m almost always alone). I’ve started carrying my cell phone even if it’s a short run and I’m not going very far from home. I wear a RoadID and if it’s dark outside I don’t wear headphones. I bought a reflective vest and try to run in areas with a lot of street lamps. For the most part, I feel pretty safe. It always helps when I see someone else out running!

  27. Ali @ Ali Runs October 27, 2011 at 4:24 am #

    I also hate that I have to be worried while out running. Most of the time I refuse to run in the dark unless I’m with someone else. I also will rarely run on trails (bike paths, etc.) by myself because I have heard one too many stories about bad things happening to women running alone.

    Recently, there was a local story about a man attacking men on a bike path (that I used to run on all the time). It was really scary and I haven’t been back since.

  28. abbi October 27, 2011 at 4:27 am #

    I run alone most of the time when it’s on roads. I run regular routes and if it’s longer than 6ish miles I always take my phone and also have pepper spray. I do not mind running in my neighborhood when it is dark but my husband is pretty against it. He completely draws the line at any sort of trail, regardless of where it is or how much it is frequented. He is very against me going alone so I only go on trails when I can go with a group. I admit I’d go to some that I feel are perfectly safe but he is very against it.

  29. lindsay October 27, 2011 at 5:04 am #

    well a lot of solo runners (or joggers) aren’t as safe as you. a girl was sexually assaulted on one of my main long run routes a few years ago so i do not run there in the dark anymore – daytime only. i know how you feel though! i sometimes start giving myself the creeps on a run even though usually i have no reason to be worried or afraid. i’ve done some questionable runs in the past but usually i’d rather be safe than sorry – even if that means cutting a run short or running on a treadmill (like i did so many times in kentucky when i didn’t know the area!).

    scary stuff can happen anywhere – anytime, solo or in a group. we just have to be alert and as best-prepared as possible!

  30. Sarah K. @ The Pajama Chef October 27, 2011 at 5:52 am #

    i pretty much never run in the dark. i have friends who do, and do so alone, and i worry about them but with some jobs- what can you do? i stick to bike paths & city streets mostly (there aren’t many trails close by- at least 30 min drive) so it’s not too big of a deal. i think awareness is very important and i hate seeing runners out in the dark with headphones, unaware of traffic or anything else. that being said…the stickiest situation i got into while running (that involved a person- i’ve been attacked by two dogs while running too) was in HS when i was running on a college campus in my hometown. i was out w/ my team but we were spread out and a guy exposed himself to me so i just hightailed it back to school. creepy but not too scary. i think he was a frat guy or something, doing a dare.

  31. Tracy October 27, 2011 at 6:28 am #

    A few months ago a girl was attacked on a trail close to where I run in the early morning hours . Thankfully she managed to get away from her attacker without any physical harm being done to her. I knew I would hear about this incident at work the next day because everyone knows that I run. Sure enough the next morning I received lectures about running by myself and how unsafe it is from many of my coworkers. Even though I usually run with 2 or 3 others I really enjoy my solo runs.

    Do I feel that running solo is unsafe? No, not really. I never run in unfamilar places when it’s dark and I usually never wear an Ipod when I run solo. The most important thing is always be aware of your surrounding and listen to your gut if you feel like something is not right. I once took a self defense class and the one message I will always remember from the instructor is if you are attacked no matter what NEVER give up and keep fighting.

  32. Kristy@RunTheLongRoad October 27, 2011 at 6:37 am #

    this annoys me on so many levels. i, too, am very smart about running alone. most of my running is done alone in the early AM. i never wear an iPod, carry mace, and run in well lit areas until the sun comes up. i also very aware of my surroundings. if anything (or anyone) seems off or strange, i turn around.

    furthermore, i hate when the news calls runners “joggers”. you are not a jogger!!!!! that word should just go away entirely.

    • Aron October 28, 2011 at 3:35 pm #

      Hah yah I didnt address that but you know the word immediately hit a nerve ;)

  33. Naomi October 27, 2011 at 7:16 am #

    I’m not afraid to run in the dark early mornings. I use a head lamp, light colored (even reflective) clothing and I run in a residential neighborhood that has zero traffic. I also feel that bad people aren’t up and about at 6 am. But if I’m running in the afternoons/evenings, it has to be lit or else I just won’t go. But like you, I use a Road ID and carry a phone, money and pepper spray when I’m out on a trail or in a new area.

  34. Mary @ food and fun on the run October 27, 2011 at 7:28 am #

    I almost always run alone, and no, I do not think it to be unsafe. I am very aware of my surrounding, carry ID, and make sure I tell someone where I am going. I can not live in a world of constant fear. I love running way too much, and if I were forced to run inside, I can guarantee I would not be running for as long, as far, or having nearly as much fun. I know the risks that are involved in running alone. I know that it can be unsafe. I do my best to be as safe as possible by keeping myself alert and aware of people around me. I do not want to live in a world of fear. I want to live in a world of possibility.

  35. Carolina John October 27, 2011 at 7:45 am #

    I always run and bike alone because I am too hectic and lazy to line up anybody to run with me, and I usually head out the door whenever I can get out not whenever somebody else can meet me. The “start at a specific time and place” gets me in trouble every time. And since Raleigh NC is not nearly as beautiful as the pictures you showed here, I have no troubles at all taking the safe route and sticking to the treadmill and stationary bike. Since I live in the ghetto and don’t feel like carrying a pistol with me when I run (again, the NC ghetto isn’t Inglewood) and have the wife and two kids at home, I have to take it as safe as possible. No matter what else I feel like doing, I always have to play the safest options.

  36. marlene October 27, 2011 at 8:08 am #

    You fell right into their little story. What are the odds of that happening, and then spotting the article??

    I definitely agree that you have to draw the line somewhere. Every minute of our lives we are doing something that could potentially be dangerous in some way or another – getting in the car, walking to the store, working on a high floor, cooking, etc.etc.etc… but we still have to do it!

    There are certain precautions we can take (and you are a fine example, I am so much more careless/lazy about it… oops) and other than that, you just to be aware.

    Great post!

  37. J October 27, 2011 at 8:25 am #

    Great post! Definitely a good subject especially as runners and women runners at that. I definitely think there is a line. I always go with my gut because I do run alone a lot and most of it in the dark. If I just don’t feel comfortable going down a dark street I pick a different route. I always run a different route to be safe and honestly I think running at 5am helps because there aren’t a lot of people out. At the same time I worry that I may get into a false sense of security. I am always on the look out and aware of my surroundings. I think having a road ID is key, and also carrying a cell phone. I always leave my route written down when I leave in the morning and mileage and estimated time I will be back. It is sad that we have to be so careful but better safe than sorry.

  38. Morgan October 27, 2011 at 8:36 am #

    While still living in Orlando a friend of a friend was attacked in broad daylight while running one of my routes. It threw my world upside down for a few days but I knew I was always running as safe as possible; pepper spray in hand, road it on my shoe, phone in other hand, run route up on the computer at home with a sticky note saying when I left and expected to return. Thankfully I have never encountered a similar fate but it is a very scary thing to be a solo female jogger/runner out on the streets, trails, etc… I could never imagine giving all of that up for the treadmill.

  39. Layla October 27, 2011 at 8:40 am #

    Being aware and taking a few precautions are good, and I think you balance them well. However, the odds of being attacked are still so much lower than those of getting into a car accident while driving to the gym to run on the treadmill. The odds of getting injured are also much higher, which is why it’s good to have ID, a phone or at least know where to find phones nearby.

    I do not own pepper spray, and I wouldn’t carry it if I did. Unless I carried it with the trigger ready to go, there is no way I’d be able to get it out in time to spray an attacker. Even then, some of the spray would most likely get in my own eyes and hinder my escape — and the attacker could get the pepper spray away from me and use it against me. It’s much better to expend the time and energy in fighting, screaming and escaping. (If it’s a guy, go for the crotch. If you’re close to the attacker, go for the eyeballs. Those are the most stunning, to give you a chance to escape.)

    The newspaper article does raise a good point, and it’s always good to be aware. But they sensationalized this and jumped to some conclusions. The victim was not out for a run, due to his shoes and clothing. Comparing him to you isn’t fair.

  40. ~K~ October 27, 2011 at 9:37 am #

    i feel a lot like you — i hate that i have to think about it, worry about dangerous folks being around when i go for my (always) solo runs. But i enjoy my runs so I’ve decided to just trust God. Whatever is supposed to happen, will happen and whatever isn’t won’t.
    Congrats getting a picture in the paper! ;-)

  41. Megan October 27, 2011 at 2:15 pm #

    No way!! At least you weren’t one of those people who get pictures taken of them from the shoulders down when they write stories about obesity.. right?

  42. jeannett October 27, 2011 at 7:14 pm #

    whoa! craziness all the way around!!!

  43. Tara October 27, 2011 at 9:19 pm #

    Even when I run with friends (and my phone, Road ID, etc.) I have moments where I don’t feel safe. My running buddies and I had a joking moment where we devised a “plan” if we were attacked. I’d run to get help, one would beat up the perp and the other would scream and run the other day.

    It was a joked at the time, BUT I think about that a lot.

    My husband always know where I’ll be, even though we vary the route slightly when running. I try to take precautions, but, really, these days you can never be too careful. I stopped running with my iPod for this reason specifically. I had a guy trailing me for a good three miles on a run earlier this year. I had to call my husband to come get me because it freaked me out so much, particularly because I was off the beaten path.

  44. courtney (pancakes and postcards) October 28, 2011 at 12:21 am #

    hey aron,

    can’t believe you in that picture. ridiculous. that being said, this is something I think about a lot. I used to have a “I’m a strong independent person and I can do what I want whenever I want it!” type of attitude, thinking that because I was strong and independent I was probably less at risk. Then last winter I got attacked by two men at 7PM right outside my house overseas, which never would have happened if the sun hadn’t set already.

    Now I am super weary of this. I have run about 5 miles this week, because I skipped two of my three runs because morning was still pitch black and the other day it was dark when I got home. I don’t like that that affects my fitness (and it does… horribly) but I also find myself heading for home the second it gets darkish these days.

  45. kristen October 28, 2011 at 7:08 am #

    I thought that was you after I clicked to the article, but then I decided against it thinking that would be too much of a coincidence. I must see alot of pictures of you running from behind :)

    Anyways, this is tragic. And it’s unfortunate that shit like this happens. I feel very safe in my city. The only real threat is wildlife (bears and cougars spotted regularly). When I leave my town though, I would never hit a trail solo. Too isolated. I want cars. Lots of them. I never run with pepper spray, or even my phone. That’s obviously not great, but that’s how I roll. We’ve had a few female runners make reports of harrassment this year in the greater Seattle area, but I really feel very safe and secure in my little town. I know shit like this could happen anywhere – but I feel most vulnerable in the trails.

  46. Ken October 28, 2011 at 7:16 am #

    As a Park Ranger for many years, I believe female runners should carry a small runners fanny pack to carry your cell phone and pepper spray. Those of you that live in states that allow it should carry one of these. its what I carry in my car off duty and what my wife carries.

    http://www.kimberamerica.com/pepperblaster

    More than this, have a plan. Plan for what you would do if you encounter an assailant. One reacts under stress the way one trains. No plan, no training = hesitation and “freezing up”.
    Take the self defense course you have been considering but haven’t had the time for. Leave a text message or voice mail with a friend before going out on the trail.

    And enjoy your running!

    Ranger Ken.

  47. Cynthia Lambert October 28, 2011 at 12:40 pm #

    Hey Aron,
    Wow, small world. I was the girl with the notepad and I didn’t recognize you as you headed up the trail. (Just want to state for the record that I didn’t write the photo caption — I wouldn’t have written “jogger”!)
    I’m glad you had a good run and hope you’re having a great time in SLO. Whenever I run on Madonna I see numerous solo runners. But I prefer to take my husband with me, since I get spooked easily. Although the scariest thing I’ve ever seen on the trails is some wild turkeys.
    Cynthia

  48. RoseRunner October 28, 2011 at 2:07 pm #

    how fascinating. they totally sensationalized that pic of you to help boos their news story. news reporting is such an art of fabrication sometimes.

    Safety: I don’t run alone at night (anymore. I did at UCLA pretty regularly) and that’s my entire safety measure. I don’t bring an ID, I don’t bring my phone. But I also pretty strictly run in neighborhoods in the early morning. but all in all, I’ve known for 10 years now that if I die young, it will be from running. and probably due to a stupid driver.

  49. Ariana October 28, 2011 at 9:21 pm #

    I never thought about it much until a jogger got assaulted in my considerably safe town. It made me not want to run alone, but I’ve realized that every time I go out there I’m taking a risk. I try to be as safe as possible, but I know I’m taking a risk. I’m not going to not run outside because of it, but I’m more award now.

  50. RunToTheFinish October 29, 2011 at 2:58 pm #

    i love and adore running by myself…so I long ago decided that I would be as safe as possible about it, but seriously I could get in a car wreck any day of the week, so I’m not going to be afraid to go out and do something I love

  51. Mary October 30, 2011 at 11:58 am #

    Until recently, I used to never run more than an hour before sunrise or an hour after sunset (i.e. before it started to get light or after it was totally dark), but lately I’ve been doing early morning runs & love them. My thoughts are, you are no less safe running in the dark than you are walking (as long as you aren’t wearing headphones). As long as I am aware of my surroundings, I figure I am no different than people walking to the bus stop or to work.

  52. Joanne October 31, 2011 at 1:08 pm #

    I hate it as well when I get scared on a run. That’s why I got my German Shepherd and trained him to run long miles. Since I run at 4 or 5 am when it’s still dark, he is my saving grace. He’s not mean but he does take care of me when we run and he’s on his leash.
    Believe it or not, he slows me down but who cares, at least I’m safe and I always have a running partner that will run where ever, when ever, and however far I want to go.
    Stay safe.

  53. runinthesunblog October 31, 2011 at 3:26 pm #

    Scary!
    I always have my phone with me but that’s not going to do much if I get attacked. Yikes!

  54. Leana November 1, 2011 at 12:03 pm #

    I have done a lot of long runs solo. I think the scariest situation I’ve ever been in was when I was running in a secluded area, it got dark, and there were bear warning signs out. There wasn’t much I could do but keep running though! Now if I need to run early in the morning or late at night I’ll opt to run around my neighbourhood (although really, who is to say that this is completely safe?) or I’ll stick to running popular areas in the daylight. If there is some place I really want to explore then I’ll take a friend.

  55. Jess November 5, 2011 at 11:03 am #

    I’m lucky that most of my runs are in a very populated area. Even when I run before it gets light in the morning, there are plenty of people around headed to work.

    I would probably feel ok running on that trail during the day, because obviously other people are using it too. I’m kind of annoyed that they put you in that photo–you’re not doing anything wrong by going out for a run.

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