How a murder and a stabbing changed the way I think about running.

Hello, How are you today? I hope your week is off to a good start so far.

I took the day off from all exercise on Monday and sat on my ass while I caught up on some work. It was pretty nice actually but by this morning I was in exercise withdrawal and I had to go running. I ran 6.3 miles around my neighborhood. I am tweaking my training a bit and I’m hoping it’s going to help me with my future races. I actually wanted to run a little longer this morning but I didn’t have time because I had to leave almost an hour later than I normally do, but I’ll tell you why a bit later.

There is something really scary that I need to tell you about first.

Last night I decided to go to Walgreens at around 8:00pm. MacGyver was tired from working all day and didn’t feel like going so I hopped in the car and headed off. About 2 minutes after I left the driveway I spotted several police cars across the road and what looked like a CSI van. I got an eerie feeling instantly but I kept driving.

On the way to Walgreens I knew that something bad had happened. I knew in my mind that it was bad and I don’t know how to explain it. It was gut instinct or something, but I’m telling you, I just knew.

Anyway, I went to Walgreens and then made a quick stop at the Dollar Tree and headed back toward home. I didn’t think about what I had seen just 30 minutes earlier. I have a tendency to do that. I convince myself that I’m over-reacting and not to be a Drama Queen. So, I took another route home and I forgot all about it, I didn’t even mention it to MacGyver….. Until 10 O’clock that evening….

That’s when I logged on to the local news station to check the weather and saw a headline that grabbed my attention: Man turns himself in saying he killed mother

Uh, remember what I saw earlier on my way to Walgreens? Yeah, same address. Literally 2 blocks from my house and an area that is typically very safe, an area that I run in all the time and a house that I run by at least 4 or 5 times a week.

I have always run on that side of the street and in that part of the neighborhood because I assumed it was the safer area. How wrong I was. How horribly wrong. What does that say about my judgment?

This is two times in less than a month that something bad has happened where I often run. About two weeks ago a runner was stabbed in broad daylight on a route I often run near my house in Venice, by a 13-year-old boy! That neighborhood is also considered a very safe and quiet neighborhood.

I thought about this a lot last night and I think what’s really bothering me is the fact that I’ve never been scared. I have never once been alarmed by anything or anyone while out running, (other than the occasional animal) but I do have fears while running in other areas that I’m not familiar with. I think I’ve gotten comfortable in my familiarity both here and in Venice. Even when MacGyver and other family members tell me to be careful and make sure to be safe, I kind of shrug it off. I’ve always thought I couldn’t be any safer. I’m running close to home in areas where I know a lot of the neighbors and they know me.

So, this morning I left after the sun came up, almost an hour later than I normally leave and while I didn’t feel unsafe, I felt safer than I would have if I left when it was still dark outside. I almost always run alone so I’ve decided to adopt some safer tactics and adjust my schedule to accommodate them. It’s not something I planned on doing and may not even be necessary but I just feel better about it.

Because even though the murder may have been an isolated incident and the stabbing near Venice may have been a rogue attack by a disturbed teenager, I don’t feel as confident or carefree as I used to and I’m going to take precautions because I think it’s the smart thing to do and I hope that you’ll take precautions too. Please keep running but be safe.

Do you run alone? What precautions do you take to stay safe? Got any suggestions?

18 thoughts on “How a murder and a stabbing changed the way I think about running.

  1. I am really clad you wrote this because sometimes I don’t always s feel safe either..and My judgement could be off. On my way to the gym my car got shot at..I am lucky I am here in once piece today…I thank God everyday that I compete a run safely…because you just never know…I try to find busy areas and have been running less out doors, when the trails are without other runners.

    • I remember reading your post about being shot at. That is some scary ish! Glad you’re being safe. I think occasionally we all need to be reminded to have our guard up and pay attention. Hopefully it will help to keep us all safe.

  2. Scary stuff! There is always this balancing act between what feels like the need to live our lives in a shell and the realization that it is as safe as it can be out there. My belief is that my personal safety is WAY more at risk by spending as much time in my car as I do and yet I do this without a second thought! On related notes, here are a couple of links to posts I wrote on running safety and when violence hits close to home (mainly to save me further writing HERE! lol)
    http://baker-strides.blogspot.ca/2013/05/fat-b-d-reigns-no-more.html
    http://baker-neanderings.blogspot.ca/2013/04/dead-building.html

  3. Don’t doubt your sense of judgment based on this situation. You never know what can be brewing in the homes around your neighborhood, even if things seem nice and safe on the surface. It’s best to always maintain vigilance when running solo, especially when it is dark. I’ve never run with pepperspray, but a handful of keys can be a handy form of protection (I hope).

    I also have the Lookout app on my phone. I haven’t done anything with it in awhile, but it does have the capability of tracking it as a missing device, just in case…

    • Thanks Janelle, I am researching apps that might come in handy and I am carrying pepper spray now. It just sucks to be so fearful when I never really was before…

  4. I run alone too, but I am pretty cautious and careful. I’ve had a few scary experiences running in years past that made me change the way I do things. I never run without a teargas/pepper spray combo. I never run with headphones if I am in quiet or less populated area’s, I save them for the busy streets. I also mix it up, and try not to be routine, and aware of my surroundings. I also think its so important to tell someone where I’m going. But not post it on FB or have a app tracking your run and posting it live, you just never know who might see it.
    I think sometimes we need to have scary situations (sad as that sounds) come up, so that it forces us to re-evaluate what we are doing so we can make sure we are being safe instead of in denial that we are always safe!

    • That’s a great point. Had it not been for what happened, I might still be running the same old routes without any sense of my surroundings. So, in some way, it’s good that I was forced to face the possibility of danger before it ever happened to me. I love the idea of never running the same route, my husband actually told me he thought it would be a wise idea not only to change my route when I run but also when I walk the dogs, just in case someone could be following me or even watching my house. Sadly, these are things that never even occured to me but unfortunately, they are things I now have to think about. 🙁

  5. Wow, very scary! I’ve said this before but we live in a pretty dangerous area. There’s a canal behind our house so I feel safe using that to walk on, since I can’t run yet… my husband might invest in a “pocket pistol” that either one of us can strap on our thigh for easy access. I’d like to have some mace or pepper spray..but since I’m not running yet, I haven’t bought anything. But it’s definitely something I’d carry to feel more protected.

  6. I pretty much always run alone and in the dark/ dawn hours. I have a headlamp, reflective vest, and a flasher pin. While this keeps me visible to drivers and other runners, certainly doesn’t stop attackers.

    It is scary but it doesn’t stop me from running. I run where I know I’m safe which is usually in a neighborhood, but it looks like the murder happened pretty close by. I don’t know if there’s any one area that is safe. I guess we use our best judgement but can’t run in fear.

    There’s an emergency app that might help (it’s free) and you can notify a loved one ASAP with a press of a button: http://amplifytoday.com/gear/running-safety-made-simple/

    Take care and run safe!

  7. Wow, both of those stories are really scary! I’m about 50/50 on running alone or with a friend. Like you, I feel like I live in a really safe neighborhood, but bad guys can be lurking anywhere! Stay safe!

  8. Yes I run alone. As for precautions I try to use common sense. Having grown up in the Washington DC area I’ve always been very aware of my surrounding. Never run with ear buds in both ears. Use just one so you can at least hear what’s going on around you. One of the features I like about the app (runkeeper) I use is it allows others to keep track of my location via a website. I’ve had my daughter check on my location several times when I wasn’t home exactly when I said I would be.

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