Night Running

Hey ATRC folks,

On Saturday I had what we call a “long” day. An early morning (though very enjoyable) hike, followed by a long (though also enjoyable) day at the store, followed by caring for my sick dog (he’s all better now), followed by a minor family emergency, meant that at 10:30 on a Saturday night, I hadn’t gotten in a run.

The lateness of the night didn’t stop me, however. By 10:45, I had changed clothes and was running around the streets, headphones in my ears, new shoes on my feet. I ran around my parent’s neighborhood, breathing deeply as my cares of the day fell away with every mile I ran. It wasn’t a perfect run (I prefer trail, as you might expect), but I was able to run off a lot of the stress and anxiety that had built up throughout the day.

The strangest event of the night, however, was near the end of my run. I was approaching a neighborhood intersection when an SUV drove past me. A window slid down and I heard a woman’s voice call out, “YOU’RE DOING BETTER THAN MOST OF US!”

Now, this was a Saturday night, and the person may have been tipsy or sarcastic. But the voice sounded sincere, and it didn’t seem to have any hint of irony in it. I yelled thank you back, but I had to stop for a moment and think for a bit. I realized what kind of privilege it was for me to be able to run late at night, feel safe enough to wear headphones and not have to deal with catcalling (or only receive positive catcalls).

There’s a certain privilege in the fact that I’m a male who’s able to run late at night and not have to fear for my physical safety. I’ve met many women who are shocked at the fact that I get most of my miles in at night, or that I run alone, or that I run with headphones. And while I’ve had a vague knowledge of this fact, I hadn’t realized what kind of an outrage that is. There’s a deficiency in our society when a certain kind of person is not able to move freely at night for fear of physical violence. Running is often called the most egalitarian sport; all you have to do to join is start running. But there are too many people who aren’t able to run at certain times, or run in certain neighborhoods, and I find it both depressing and frankly, disturbing.

I hope that someday running can more fully become a sport for everyone, where anyone can experience the healing that comes through exertion and the zen of putting one foot in front of the other, and the only thing they have to worry about is if their legs will feel sore the next day. And I think it’s our job as members of this sport to try to make this hope a reality.