The fear of running during dark autumn evenings.

Currently preparing for my evening run, warming up cold and tired ligaments, tendons and body. Not to mention my mind, it is rather mushy after a whole day in front of the computer stuffing my head with numerous theories and methods. The upcoming examination next year is haunting me day and night despite the fact that it is a long way off yet. However, I find that there is no better thing to clear my mind, shake off any lingering anxiety or stress, than heading off out for a run. It is my mind palace, my favourite place to be, body and mind. To once again become one with my own breathing, fully reconnecting with my body and everything that I am. To thrive in the feeling of ‘nothing else matters here and now’, unstoppable and empowered by the strength in my legs, the stubbornness in my forever going forward feet and uttermost love for draining myself of energy to regain, energy. To fill up my emptied out levels of complete peace of mind. That is what running means to me, that is why I love it so much. The other benefits? Well, they are the icing on the cake. That is all.

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One thing that I do not like about running during autumn and winter times is the darkness. And yes I know, it is easy to mend by heading off out during daytime but its not always an option no matter if you are your own boss (student!) or not. I used to be very confident when it came to these things, not only because I was pretty good at martial arts and an excellent – fast and strong – runner, but also because I believed the world to be kind. However, I did learn the hard way that the world is not always kind, and it does not take much for you to end up in a very bad situation that will impact your life for a long time.

Ten years ago I was physically attacked and abused, scars that will never fully heal but that I today carry with a much lighter heart and mind than I did a couple of years ago. It did however take a long time to get back to where I am today, training became something extremely negative to me. Running was a complete no for years and I lost my ability to trust people, strangers in particular. The idea to head off out on a run on my own in the darkness is still a rather daunting task. It is a concern that I carry with me when I enter a seemingly empty and remote forest and areas that I do not always know. Will I be alone? And perhaps more important, will I be left alone? Most of the time I follow the rule to only run in areas that I know very well, I suppose it is a way to control any potential outcome. I know all the shortcuts and I know every single path in the forest where I run. But yet, that knowledge may not be enough if I would encounter the wrong kind of person or persons. And it is a tragedy that I and many with me, in particular women, have to worry about things like this. That my body is not my own to own.

Statistics of violent attacks and abuse suggest that it is often made by people that we already know and trust. Perhaps it is the ”nice” runner you always wave to on your way out or someone living along the route where you live who spend his/her evening keeping tack of your routine, learning everything. I certainly do not want to scare anyone off by writing this post, my goals are instead to voice a loud but gentle, be careful out there. Be mindful of your surroundings and if possible team up with a running partner if you run in very remote places! During autumn and winter evenings my fiancé always cycle with me as he (naturally) does not want me to feel uneasy about practising a sport that I love. It helps, but I wish that our world was kind that every encounter could be brilliant or at least neutral. So dear readers, my fellow runners, be careful, be mindful and look after each other!

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