A word that often evokes a negative connotation synonymous with discomfort or perhaps fear, yet this word is vital for growth. Darkness has taught me some of the most invaluable lessons in life. It thrusts you into the dichotomy of being safe and unsafe. I’m drawn to the darkness; the stillness in the late evening hours calms me from the madness life brings. I find comfort in the darkness; I feel safe to unabashedly expose my inner most demons and confront them. In darkness I find myself and challenge those beliefs of fear and doubt when they’ve sneakily arose as my body continually silences them by as I place one foot in front of another. Yet there are times when darkness has paralyzed me with fear. See it isn’t the darkness itself that frightens me, but the evil lurking within. All too often, we as female runners are faced with the harrowing truth: we aren’t safe. We aren’t safe from the onslaught of derogatory comments thrown our way, we aren’t safe from being preyed upon, we aren’t safe from being brutally murdered, we simply aren’t safe. I recalled a time I stepped out to run on the road, just an ordinary training day I thought. That night was different, that night a car decided to slowly follow me along a busy street. Initially, I froze, then adrenaline kicked in. The man had stopped beside me with his van and I got angry. Angry that he interrupted my run, angry that he felt compelled to prey upon me, angry because I just wanted to run without being bothered. I threw rocks at his windshield and yelled obscenities, anything to make this interaction a deterrent for him to pursue it any further. Sadly, this story is one of thousands we carry as women. I refuse to allow the darkness change my narrative for running. If anything, it has empowered me. As a petite individual, it ignited this spark inside and reinforced a sense of security in the event this scenario occurs again, I can positively establish dominance over the situation. A few tips for safe running: always inform an individual of your running route, ensure your runs on your app are private, bring a weapon (mace, knife, or firearm), be cognizant of body language, take a martial arts class, and run without an ear bud in. The darkness doesn’t have to be ominous and foreboding, but rather a source of happiness.
The more we resist this darkness the unpleasant the experience or the more it consumes us.
Malaina is a novice ultra-runner, Unites States Marine Corps veteran, and pizza connoisseur. She is currently studying for her bachelors in Cybersecurity. Her source of motivation stems from the desire to continually break down limiting beliefs and to become the most authentic version of herself.