A reason to change course

By , August 5, 2014 6:23 am

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I’m not one to worry about my safety on solo runs. I try to be smart about them, yes – always let someone know where I am (send a Glympse), stay in the neighborhood if it’s dark/wear reflective clothing and headlamp, don’t listen to music, run with my phone, don’t run in the street, change course if something seems off, blah de blah blah. 

But I don’t worry. I do these things and pay attention to my surroundings when I run because that is just part of how I run. Nothing anxious about it. I like to leave my front door and just see where my feet take me without any concern over how they take me there. 

Until now. 

Do you ever read something in the news and think “Gah! I wish I hadn’t read that!”?

That’s been me lately*. Reading about shootings around where I live, and about strange things happening to people in the local forest preserves. 

So on my Sunday run, I found myself purposefully avoiding a certain neighborhood, due to things I’ve recently read about happening there. It wasn’t necessarily a bad thing – I got to run on a new sidewalk (that was the only reason I could avoid that neighborhood) and see the lake that the town I live in is named for:

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But it really bothered a part of me that I was altering my course due to “safety” reasons. I liked my ignorance is bliss days of running anywhere and everywhere – exploring anything I wanted. I don’t like feeling restricted, even if it’s for safety reasons, and even if it’s smart. Sigh. 

Of course, if you try hard enough, you could find something bad about almost any area, to make you not want to run there. I am not like that. But when I read about shootings** it does make me rethink running in a certain area by myself. 

*And ALL the time with messed up animal stories!!!
**I don’t have any second thoughts about running in the forest preserves solo. 

27 Responses to “A reason to change course”

  1. Kiersten says:

    I hate feeling like I can’t run where and when I want to because of safety. I have to admit, I was totally naive and pretty stupid about running by myself in all places at all times, until I was jumped about 5 years ago. Then for awhile I was overly cautious. Now, I think I have a pretty good balance. I am lucky that it is pretty safe where I live. But when I am travelling for work, I sometimes decide it is better to stick to the hotel gym than feel unsafe running outside.

  2. Michelle says:

    I’ve always been the same way in regards to NOT worrying. I trained for my first half marathon in the later hours of the evening as it was the ONLY time you could handle the heat, and didn’t think much of it…yet like you, recently there has been far too many scary stories about runners being found dead on trails NEAR my home. So now, I run when it’s light, or with someone nearly always. Sad, but safety is important.

  3. Heather says:

    Better to be safe than sorry! I’m more interested in this stuff now that my son is old enough to ride his bike and/or walk to school solo. Now I’m completely paranoid. lol. :)

    • kilax says:

      That would make me paranoid, too! We were never allowed to ride our bikes or walk to school as kids – even though the school was so close – and I can see why! Has your son been going on his own?

  4. Maggie says:

    A few months after we moved away from my parents house, there were a string of sexual assaults, in places I used to run – restidential and parks. And during times I would run (early evening). This went on for a few months before they finally caught the guy last week it sounds like. But WTF??? If that had happened while we were still living there, I’m not sure what I would have done. Probably only do group or treadmill runs, sadly. I already didn’t run in the forest preserve about 2 miles from my parents house because there have been a couple murders there in my lifetime (one of a family acquantance).

    But now I’ve escaped the dangers of the south suburbs for the safety of Chicago!!! Just kidding. I don’t head directly west of my apartment. North, south, east is (relatively) fine, but not west.

    • kilax says:

      Gosh. I am happy they caught that guy. Sad that it took so long. And that you know someone who was murdered in a park. WTF :( Sigh. I guess we all just have to hope it’s “not us”? That’s so naive. But I don’t want to leave in fear!

      • Maggie says:

        The best we can do is just try to be safe. If you start planning for every single “what if” scenario … well that’s no way to live. Bad stuff happens, yes, but is it any better to live your entire life in fear?

  5. Pete B says:

    Living in the city, I have not heard of all of these mysterious random suburban runner deaths. Scary! However, I think I’d be more scared to run in a forest preserve where no one could hear me scream than on a suburban sidewalk where nosy neighbors would probably call the cops at the drop of a hat. In any case, hearing these stories could be motivation for me to focus on speed work.

    • kilax says:

      Ha ha. Yeah, I wouldn’t expect you to read our local paper ;) And maybe I should stop reading it! LOL.

      The forest preserves are kind of the perfect set-up for something bad to happen. Especially the isolated ones. Luckily, they are usually full of people or I go with a friend ;)

  6. I run in the forest preserve solo all the time. But I always look pissed off, so maybe people don’t want to mess with me? LOL that’s all I got.

  7. Kristina says:

    It’s too bad that you have to alter your usual running routes, but I also think that there is something to be said for taking the precautions to keep yourself safe. It doesn’t mean that you are cynical or overly cautious, I think of it as ‘awareness’ more than anything.
    There are definitely some blocks in my neighborhood that are a bit iffy, but I can (and do) avoid them because I’d rather relax and enjoy the run.
    On a different safety note, when I visit my parents in Texas, I have to worry about dogs chasing me and often carry a small stick to shake at them!

    • kilax says:

      Thank you for getting it! It is just awareness. I knew someone who was SO scared to run … and I never want to be like that!

      Dogs freak me out when I am running! So startling!

  8. Meghan says:

    I think about this all of the time! I remember running by myself in Bucktown early in the AM, only to hear of the guy who attacked two girls with a baseball bat in the very spot I used to run. Mike and I now use the Friend Finder app so he can track me on my runs. But yeah, I definitely try to run with friends.

  9. Di says:

    Absolutely better safe than sorry, though it does suck to have to think about bad stuff that can happen. =(

  10. Pam says:

    I’ve never thought about city dwellers having that problem. You know, as long as you don’t go through the ghetto at midnight. lol I live in a very rural area. When I run from my house, oftentimes I never see a single car once I turn off the highway. It would be pretty easy for someone to snatch me up. I have my CC permit and have thought about carrying while running but that seemed so cumbersome. Then yesterday there was an incident with a runner being harassed and assaulted one town over. That sealed the deal for me. I’ve got a nice sports holster in my shopping cart for when I get paid next Friday. :)

    • kilax says:

      Ha. So I can run through the ghetto during the day? Idk… I kind of feel like I should just stay out of there, all the time ;) The articles never say what time these things happen. LOL.

      But yeah, I see what you are saying! Which is worse – being in the middle of no where? Or getting caught up in something that you have nothing to do with (gangs, in my area).

      Ooo! I am anxious to hear how it goes with running and carrying. I hope you find a way to make it comfortable!

  11. Amy says:

    Wow, Kim, this is scary, and I think you are right to take precautions. I get freaked out very easily and even though I think it is pretty safe around here, I am always very cautious about when I am out alone doing a workout – careful about my route, aware of people around me, have my phone with me… I hope they catch the person who is doing this.

  12. I do think about this when I’m choosing my route for the morning. I’d love to run more in the forest preserves but there are just too many creepy people–I see them when I’m biking there. I feel much less vulnerable on my bike, for sure!

  13. jan says:

    In either Moline or Davenport (both part of the Quad Cities) a man was jumping out and grabbing when as they ran on a paved trail in a city park. We are still about an hour from there, but you think about this side of the state being rural and more safe than the city/suburbs usually! I too would be nervous. We have another cougar in our town which is more scary to me right now than people. You just never know. I do hate it when fear alters my life.

  14. Rachel says:

    I get so irrationally angry that I have to be so careful when I run by myself. It’s not fair that we have to suffer because people are assholes. And it’s not fair that women have to take so many more precautions than men!

    Kevin’s always sending me articles about things happening to runners (but why are they always called ‘joggers’ in the news?) and I know he’s doing that because he worries, but I’d just rather not know! I just told him he has to start running with me so he doesn’t have to worry. Hahah. Hasn’t worked yet!

    • kilax says:

      Maybe we should hide along the course of the next Trail Nerds runs and “attack” some of those men? ;)

      You know, since you told me about the “jogger” thing, I have noticed that too! WTF!

      I think he SHOULD run with you :)

  15. It makes me sad (angry) that we have to be super cautious when going for a run. WTF!! I do my long runs with a group but have been doing a shorter run by my house. I take my phone but don’t run with music. I am also more aware of my surrounding and usually run on/by a major street.

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