Earlier this week, a local woman's body was found on a running path at a popular park. Since I live in a rural area, it's not easy to find populated running routes and before learning about that woman's murder, I would have said that trail was one of the safest places to run around here because it's popular and it goes behind people's houses so you're never really "alone".
I normally run on rural farm roads that don't have an outlet (so there is little to no traffic) and there is often no one is sight. I hardly ever see another runner, let alone another person, when I'm out. It's safer for me to stick to these side roads because none of the roads have shoulders so I need to avoid strips of road with lots traffic.
I do all the right things to ensure my safety when I run, like:
1. I carry a cell phone.
2. I make sure my husband knows my planned route and how long I expect to be gone.
3. I don't use headphones or listen to music.
4. I pay attention to my surroundings and notice if a car passes by me more than once.
5. I have a Road ID.
6. I do most (if not all) of my long outdoor runs in a group and Peanut comes for all the cooler weather runs.
But really...am I safe? Stay with me here, I'm not crazy.
All of these tips and tricks just seem like they would help people find and identify my body more easily...not actually keep me alive. With the exception of running in a herd of women, there isn't much I can do to say "Nope, I'm totally safe" as I run. I'm not suggesting that runners should live in a state of fear, but I do think that many of us have a false sense of security. I have years of martial arts experience but instead of feeling like I could fend for myself, instead I know exactly how fucked I'd be trying to fight off a large man.
I'm not going to stop running outside by myself, but stuff like this local murder makes me really reconsider how I approach it. Maybe those people who do all their long runs on the treadmill are on to something.
Maybe I'm just too paranoid. I still won't run in Rock Creek Park after Chandra Levy was murdered there (not that it's really a close running option anymore). I'm betting people who run in urban settings are laughing at me right now because if they avoided running in areas where murders happened, they wouldn't be able to run at all.
What do you think? Are you really "safe" when you're out running by yourself if you follow all the prescribed guidelines?
Will you avoid running in an area if a jogger is killed (isn't it funny how the news always talks about a jogger getting killed instead of a runner?)