The Unfiltered Truth About a Runner’s Worst Nightmare

A man jumping out from behind a bush while out on a solo run. This is a runner’s worst nightmare and this is exactly what happened to me a few weeks ago during an early Sunday morning run.

Listen to the “The Unfiltered Truth About a Runner’s Worst Nightmare” read aloud by the author.

We all know it is safest to run in the daylight, but with 10+ miles on the training plan, sometimes there just isn’t enough time in the day. On this particular Sunday morning I knew I needed to run 14 miles. I had carefully planned a 7 mile out and back runner-friendly course. Throughout the run I felt great. At mile 10 I was still feeling great, that is until my close encounter.  

Safety Precautions

Before I start detailing the whole frightening ordeal, let me tell you the safety precautions I, a somewhat seasoned runner, already had in place.

  1. I never run on isolated trails/ roads in the dark by myself (rarely in the daylight either).
  2. I always carry my phone. Not only does it keep me entertained by listening to various podcasts, music, etc., but it also allows my husband to track me via the “Find My Friends” app and I can call others as needed.  A phone can be a runner’s best friend!
  3. I wear a headlamp when I run at night or the early morning.
  4. I wear bright, reflective gear.  The brighter the gear, the faster you run, right?!
  5. I carry pepper spray that my hubby bought me a couple years ago. 

As you can see, I was already trying to run with safety in mind.  Even with all of the above safety precautions, however, things can happen.

The Nightmare

As stated above, I was 10 miles into my run when my heart skipped a beat.  The sun was rising above the horizon enough so that I had my headlamp turned off and around my wrist.  I had my runner’s Nathan water bottle in my right hand, my ear bud in my left ear only (so that I could stay alert and still hear out of my right ear), and my pepper spray in my left hand.  By this time it was about 7am. I had already been running for about 1.5 hours.  My legs were feeling strong, my pace was feeling comfortably speedy, and overall, I was feeling great! Truly a runner’s ideal situation.

I had just crossed a busy intersection and was running past a shopping center when all of the sudden a man jumped out from behind some hedges.  He was a man of moderate size wearing red basketball shorts, a white t-shirt, some kind of gloves (such as batting or golfing gloves), had a shaved head, and a tattoo of some kind under his left eye.  I noticed him right away and made my way into the street to run around him.  He looked straight at me and asked, “You got a light?”

As nonchalantly as possible, I took out my earbud and replied, “No. Sorry,” as I continued running around him.  My heart was literally beating out of my chest!  As I continued around the man, I heard him whistle in a manner that would indicate he was calling his buddies to come join him. My mind began racing a million miles an hour and I got a horrible feeling in the pit of stomach. I was living a runner’s worst nightmare!  

As I continued to run, I picked up my pace, and refused to look back.  I didn’t want them to think that I was suspicious.  Then the prayers began. “Lord, please protect me.  Bind Satan from these men and from this street.  Please send your guardian angels to run with me right now.  Lord, Lord, Lord!”

It wasn’t until I was about 1/2 mile from the incident site that I finally looked behind me. Every car that drove past me, I thought that it was the man and he was coming for me.  I continued praying the remaining 3.5 miles to the house.  

Life After the Nightmare

When I finally arrived back to the safety of my home, my prayers turned to praises.  Thank you Lord for keeping me safe!  Thank you Lord for hearing my prayers!  You are faithful Lord!

Running outside can be dangerous.  It’s important to adventure safely. There are scary people, lose animals, wild drivers, etc.  With just a quick search on Google, one can find many articles about incidents involving runners: an abducted runner, a woman killed, a dog attack, etc. Please stay safe my friends and I will try to do the same.

Since this incident, my husband has bought me a treadmill.  I will not be doing any more late night nor early morning running outside. My husband also bought me a purple jogger stun gun. Whenever I take my running outside, I now carry the stun gun with me.  All it takes is one close call to make me realize that I need to step up my safety precautions.

How do you stay safe while running outside? Do you ever run outside at night by yourself?  Have you ever had a close call while running?

The unfirletered truth about a runner's worst nightmare


Christian, wife, mom/stepmom, no meat athlete, runner, teacher

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  4. Praise the Lord that you are okay, how scary for you. I’ve not had a close call like this. I’ve only run a few times in the evening where I’ve needed a headtorch, and I always pick very busy roads with lots of traffic, but the last section down to my house is reasonably quiet. There was once a group of 3 young guys just hanging around, about 500m from home, I just crossed the road and sprinted home. More than likely they were just hanging out, but you never know do you??!!

    Oh yeah, I’ve had young guys in a car drive past and make dog barking sounds at me, but that’s more sexual harrassment!

    1. Thank you for sharing Kate! You’re right, it’s especially scary when you are outnumbered… Like 3 to 1. Yikes! Yes, you never know.

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