Something that has recently become an issue for me is coordinating my running plans. When is it okay to run by yourself versus running with others? I was fortunate enough that when I started my running journey years ago, I had a running club to depend on with consistent times and days set to run. Now that I have moved to a different state and there are not a lot of crazy graduate students like me that just run 16 miles for fun. I have struggled with the question of: “Should I run this by myself?” In this article, I will shine some light on some of my personal thought processes when trying to answer this question, and maybe you can determine for yourself what is the best choice for you in your situation.
My number one concern with running by myself is if I feel that I will be safe during my run. When I have a run and then a long day ahead of me, and I know it will be almost impossible for me to squeeze the run in the middle of my day, I sadly do not feel safe running outside at 5 in the morning by myself. The time or day matters for me and sometimes that won’t stop terrible people from hurting others. In recent news that came to my attention was a female runner from Seattle who had to fend off a man in the park bathroom where she stopped in the middle of her run. She was four miles into her ten-miler and suddenly as she was drying her hands in the bathroom she noticed a man standing in the bathroom. He immediately took her down to the ground and assaulted her.
If that can happen in the middle of the day, I do not want to risk that happening to myself in the early morning. Preferably if you were to run outside, do it in daylight and in a safe area where there are typically many pedestrians. Fortunately, this Seattle runner could defend herself and yell loud enough to get other people’s attention that they could help her lock the assaulter in the bathroom until authorities came.
The point is, if I have do not have any other time to run that isn’t a decent time with lighting, I will suck it up and treadmill at the gym. If there is a track workout I must complete, I do not feel unsafe running in circles at a local track as long as I tell others where I will be.
My recommendation is when you go for a run is to always let at least one person know you are going. If you are taking this run solo, let someone know what distance you plan to run, where you are going, and when you are estimated to be done. This can be a red flag if you are not back around the estimated time. Run with your phone on you so that this person and you have easy access to communicate with one another. A running belt can help you carry your phone if you need it. Something I never take off is my RoadID. This has contact information on my wrist as well as my own name and date or birth. You can even add if you have any medical conditions that people should know about you. Another perk of this bracelet is they have a mobile app version so that you can log all the information for your run and share it with another person who can track you live during your run. I would highly recommend this when you are going to be out for a long time. It will give you and them a peace of mind to know where you are.
Honestly, sometimes you just need to do some soul searching and run by yourself. It’s just you, the road, and the sound of your stride. These are the runs that mentally build you up and get you prepared for the half marathon, marathon, ultra, or triathlon. Try to run without listening to music. No talking, no sound, just the outdoors and focus on yourself but be safe. Consider running with pepper spray, or like the Seattle runner take a self-defense course in case the worst does happen. Always be prepared. Other days, you might need those friends who can chatter the entire time and distract you from the long run you all have. These friends might even be typically faster than you, and they are able to push you to reach new distances and paces. Having friends to run with is a huge pro that I wish I still had here. They keep you accountable, do not let you flake on your training, and are a great support system. Whatever you decide to do with your training, make sure you are safe and have some fun along the way.