I’ve found myself thinking, reading and chatting about running safety a lot lately. The nights get darker, the window for a run in the daylight becomes much smaller, and that’s happened to coincide with a particularly busy period of work for me. I’ve barely been near this blog lately – it’s dear to me, but seeing my family, running, and getting some sleep are dearer still, and at the moment, those are my choices.
There are only so many hours in the day, and the well-lit ones are few and far between, so all my running is currently done in high vis, with a combination of lights and reflective gear. But is it enough? The world feels like a dangerous place right now.
In the too-many cases we read about, where runners are injured or killed on roads and trails, they are doing everything right: good clothing, high awareness, well planned routes, checking in with someone on their timings and location.
If I run around my local (fairly small and well populated) park at midday, even as I breathe in the air, and suck in the sight of the big sky, richly coloured leaves, lush grass: I still have a thread of warning running through my mind. I’ve never had a solo run during which I’ve felt totally safe.
I’ve made time to write about this because there’s a question, isn’t there, about how we respond to threat? Whether it’s the unintentional carelessness of others, or malicious predators actively looking to exploit an opportunity – am I putting myself in harm’s way by going out alone, or even in company but in the dark, when visibility is compromised?
Going out of my front door might be a dangerous business. Even the clothes I wear are apparently contentious enough that van drivers feel licensed to beep me, as I run past them in shorts, leggings and a sweat shirt.
But our individual stand matters. Just like every vote has significance – regardless of the outcome of an election – each of our personal choices and the positions we hold add together to make the society in which we live. I cannot control the thoughts, beliefs or actions of those around me, but I can make my contribution to the bigger picture.
I won’t give up running alone. It is my joy, and my solace; I feel powerful, alive, and free. We should do everything we can to keep ourselves safe on our runs, and make good choices. But we cannot take responsibility for the foolishness or ill intent of others.
The essence of running is liberty, strength and discipline. Keep running, friends.