I didn't start out running to make a statement. That’s still not my primary purpose. I do it because it’s fun. Usually. The rebellion part is simply that I run where I want to and when I want to. While, wait for it... being female!
This is something I’ve been contemplating a lot on my runs lately and coincidentally (Or the universe’s forces aligned. Whatever you want to call it.) came across this article entitled Running While Female. It touches on many of the things I’ve been thinking about lately and inspired me to write about it from my experience. I had to come up with a new title, though, since after a Google search there are multiple articles entitled Running While Female.
I have a propensity to run alone. It's hard in this vast city to coordinate times to run with my running buddies. Also, when I travel I’m not always with other runners and it’s one of my favorite ways to explore a new place.
I really value it as my me time. Non-runners who haven’t grasped how to breathe while moving their feet more quickly may not believe it, but I find it to be quite meditative.
I also love myself a nice, quiet night run. It's so completely soothing to my soul. And I prefer trails over city streets as much as possible.
This has led to countless well-meaning (I have to assume well-meaning.) conversations with females and males, concerned that I'll be attacked running alone, especially oh no, at night. And these aren't wild animal attacks they’re concerned about. Unless you count males as wild animals.
I've even been stopped by officers of the law or park rangers checking on my safety. How do I know you aren't the creepers that are supposed to attack me?!
This line of questioning really irks me.
One, I think I can take care of myself. I know I'm only 5'2" but I'm scrappy.
Two, do you think I've never ever considered this?
And three, why should I even have to consider my safety when out running? Aside from rolling an ankle or a crazy rare wild animal encounter depending on where I'm running.
Out of this sheer annoyance, more so at our culture than them specifically, I've started asking them if they're also talking to all the males that leave their homes? Just to make sure they don't go attacking anyone.
It isn't something I worry much about. As much as I love my peaceful night runs, I do run more during the day. I try to run in areas with other people but I can’t help it if other people don’t like to hang where I like to hang. Regardless I'm vigilant, paying careful attention to my surroundings. As much so I don't twist an ankle as get attacked.
And because I do get hollered at. A couple of times I felt quite unsafe but luckily I was around others and got loud, shaming away the harassers. I’m more annoyed by than scared of the hollering because do you really think I’m going to hit the pause button on my run because you want to talk to me? Timing dudes, timing!
Still I run. I absolutely refuse not to do something I love. It doesn’t harm a single sole. I also run where I want when I want out of the sheer stubbornness that I will not let anyone take away from me what I love.
As has been reiterated countless times recently, there's something seriously wrong with a society that puts the ownership of safety on the attacked and those more likely to be attacked than those attacking or more likely to attack.
So I run.
Not away from anyone or anything. Other than a bear. Or massive, wild pigs. Which I did have a close encounter with in real life running through the mountainous farmland of Cuba.
And I’ll continue to run. Toward and for things instead. Like adventure, health, happiness, and peace. For those who can’t run. And for the rights of females to safely roam in public.