The morning’s spring weather brought out more exercisers on our Lake Norman road than usual. Riding my stationary bike, I exchanged greetings with Joan and Ethel, two neighbors who walk every morning. One lone cyclist sped by, his wheels singing a fast clip on the asphalt.
Gaining my rhythm, I noticed a lone female figure coming from the end of our peninsula. She jogged on the shoulder and worked her way toward me and an unknown destination. Then, way behind her came another female figure, but I could tell that this second one running.
Continuing my workout, I glanced often to check the progress of both figures. One graceful. One awkward. As the jogger neared me, I noticed her high arm carriage and that she swayed from side to side because of her arm motion. Now, don’t get me wrong, I admire her work, but as a past coach, I wished I could have talked running posture with her. Correct arm carriage would make her work easier. She also had a belt around her waist which carried items such as a water bottle and other things I could not identify. She slogged past me on the far side of our road, and I saw that she wore ear phones. Perhaps whatever she was listening to made her workout easier. Or so she thought.
The second figure came closer into view. I admired her good foot step, erect carriage, and smooth arm motion. While she had not caught the jogger, she would within a few yards. The only commonality they had was that the runner also wore ear phones.
I will not argue with any male or female exercises who thinks that by listening to music or whatever while doing their workout they do better. That’s what he or she believes. As a marathoner, I never wore them because I believed that I would perform better by fully concentrating on my foot plant and upper body posture. I understand the opinions; however, I encourage any female who uses ear phones while running to stop the practice for her safety.
Our dead-end road is, I believe, a safe road for walkers, joggers, riders, and any other visitor. However, that is only my belief. Sadly, our culture has problems that no movement, no matter how good, can eliminate. Movements like #ME,TOO have done much to make the workplace safer for women. Laws that protect the less able have changed our society for the better. As a wheelchair user, I appreciate equal access. All of this, and much more, is good. However, I have never heard of a male jogger or runner being assaulted, and we have yet to find a way to stop men from raping or assaulting women who are vulnerable.
The two females I saw this morning are strangers. Having ridden on this road for two years, I have come to know most regulars. Perhaps they are vacationing on Lake Norman or have just moved to the area. I don’t know. But I do know that neither one of them would be able to physically repel a male. Yes, the jogger may have carried mace in her belt. But could she have gotten to it when a male grabbed her from behind, pinning her arm or arms. The fact is that men are usually stronger than women. Now, I would tell any male who wanted to take on one of the Williams sisters to re-think his wish. I understand, and appreciate, the exceptions. However, the two females I saw this morning would not hear someone coming up to them because of the ear phones. That is an unnecessary risk.
If you exercise in open spaces, no matter how crowded, and are a female, re-consider using ear phones so that you can hear your surroundings, and this is true for males. You will, I hope, come to appreciate the sounds of nature and learn to concentrate on your form. If you are ever at Lake Norman, come by, and we can discuss your running form—without earphones.