Is there such a thing as runner’s paranoia?!

Have you ever stood on a train platform, waiting for a train (obviously!) and had a fleeting thought or fear that someone might push you onto the track when the train arrives? Well, I get thoughts like that sometimes; little thoughts that come from nowhere about random people at random times.  It’s happening when I run now, so I thought I would ask the question and see what other runners think.  It would be reassuring to know it happens to others too!

I live in a city, and I run in the city, along a sidewalk/footpath that can be narrow in parts.  It means I usually pass people as I run, either people moving in the same direction as me or people moving towards me.

So why do I get a little paranoid sometimes?  Or maybe paranoid is the wrong word.  It’s not like I’m afraid or that I believe anything is going to happen, I tend to laugh at myself and just carry on (sticking to the inside of the sidewalk of course!).  But whatever it is, these are the kinds of thoughts that go through my head:

That person could easily just stick out his arm and push me into oncoming traffic!

1 km later:
That person could casually stick a foot out and trip me up!

At the end of my run:
That person could rip my armband off and steal my phone! They probably know I’m too tired to chase after them!

Sooooo…that’s just a little sample of the kinds of thoughts that cross my mind.  I don’t know what it means, or if it means anything! Should I be worried or can I keep laughing it off?  If you do identify with me on this, please leave a comment so I know I’m not alone!

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6 responses to “Is there such a thing as runner’s paranoia?!

  1. You’re not alone, I have those exact same thoughts! At least there are two of us ha ha!

  2. Yep I think things like that too! I constantly run scenarios through my head, full of ‘what if’s’. I do it with other stuff too. Annoyingly it also often happens just as I’m falling asleep!

  3. Footfalling

    I do too. I wonder is it a female thing? (Or felt my keenly by women? ) i have only been running for about a year (in Dublin) and my paranoia has actually increased. I used to run early in the mornings along the canal, including along an isolated stretch. Nothing has ever really happened, a conment or two, one guy cycled in a deliberate circle around me which i found very threatening…i turned and ran away back down towards the village. but I am hyper aware of ‘something’ happening – being attacke, basically. Rape. I worry that it would be impossible to get my phone out of it’s holder to call for help. I’m not sure what it would take for me to be less scared but I hate the fact that any of the conversations I’ve had about this with other people end up on them saying ‘you shouldn’t run alone / in the dark / in places where there aren’t many people’ it is sad that my fear of being attacked means that I’m always looking over my shoulder. I’m pretty fast (by my standards, anyway!) and probably fitter than I’ve ever been before, and while I could probably outrun someone pursuing me, I don’t think I would be able to fight them off. Listen to my paranoia!! Perhaps sn imevitable part of living in the city ? Having said that, I have also found that there is nice solidarity with other runners ESP regulars on the same route, dog walkers etc and I am really, really looking forward to the brighter mornings and evenings!

    • Thank you for sharing! Yes, it might be a thing felt more strongly by women. I do think sometimes that at the end of my run I’m hardly in any shape to chase after someone (if they stole my phone) or to run away from someone (if they wanted to chase me). I suppose I’m lucky I run on busy, well lit streets. I think it’s definitely part of living in a city! I’m glad it doesn’t stop us from running though!

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