Stuff happens. We all know that running makes us susceptible to certain types of injuries such as tendonitis, patella femoral syndrome and plantar fascitis to name a few. We can also get injured by falling, especially on trails where the terrain is uneven, or when we are fatigued. But nothing prepared me for what just happened.
Yesterday when running with my run club I had a different kind of injury. One where someone assaulted me. As women, we are conditioned to run in groups and be aware of our surroundings. But I was running with people on a busy public street when this particular incident happened to me. For that reason, my guard was down. So I’m sharing this with you so you can increase your own awareness in similar situations.
We were running on a busy street I have run many times before. On one particular block on this street the sidewalk was obstructed due to construction, and therefore a shoulder was created for pedestrian traffic. But the construction made this particular passage more narrow that the typical sidewalk. Our run club members were running single file to allow opposing pedestrian traffic to pass along this stretch of the shoulder. One man walking in the opposite direction extended his leg and deliberately tripped me. I don’t know why he did it but when I confronted him it became clear to me that he was cognitively or behaviorally impaired.
Whatever the reason, stuff happens. On a separate occasion I was attacked by an off leash dog and that was terrifying. In that moment, I thought I was going to be mauled to death. As a result, I am now very cautious of running around dogs, particularly those off leash.
I can’t go back in time and react faster to avoid being tripped by this guy, but I will now be more cautious about the amount of space and clearance I have around other pedestrians. One of my fellow runners said something similar happened to him where a pedestrian extended his walking cane to trip him, and he narrowly avoided it and was able to prevent himself from falling.
Not everyone likes runners, but most people tolerate us and allow us to share the limited urban space with them. But there are a few individuals out there who don’t. It might not be their fault, maybe they’re suffering from some sort of behavioral health issue like the man I’ve described above. You can’t tell what people are thinking by their appearance and I couldn’t’ have known this man was going to be a threat to me or my fellow runners. But he was.
The bummer is that my injuries will take some time to heal and so my running will be on hold for the time being. It’s frustrating. But I will be fine, and I’m glad it wasn’t worse. I have contusions on my knees and scrapes and cuts to my elbows and hands. But I wasn’t pushed into traffic. I didn’t hit my head. No bones are broken. So there is the bright side.
Those of you running in big cities and urban environments, be aware of your surroundings. You can’t prevent every situation from happening, but maybe by sharing this story at least one of you might avoid something similar from happening to you.
Feel free to share your experiences in the comments below.