Personal safety is something every jogger should know. There’s tons of personal protection for joggers out there and articles urging people to be alert at all times. This is not exactly one of those articles.
This article goes out to all the Florida joggers who got together and decided not to talk about the real dangers of running in Florida in the dark. Have you become so used to dealing with these dangers that you didn’t think to warn a girl? Let me take the time to remind you, and enlighten anyone else, about the five most dangerous things I’ve found running in the dark in Florida.
Mosquitoes: Satan’s Flying Monkeys
These evil minions of Hell come into their peak evil between April and October. They are tiny (if you’re lucky), quick, and efficient blood-suckers. Don’t let people lie to you about these tiny pests by saying something like, “If you could run faster than a turtle, they’d leave you alone.” Lies! These pint-sized piranhas travel solo and in swarms because they know they’re capable of attacking you while on the move. Wear bug spray like it’s the sexiest running cologne you’ve ever had the pleasure to sniff. Stuff your bras with marigolds, catnip, and lemon anything to naturally repel mosquitoes and fellow hunky runners. Beware, be prepared.
Perhaps Floridians don’t find enough pleasure in being surrounded on three sides by water, because there seems to be a need to have man-made ponds on practically every corner. In my apartment complex alone, there are three man-made ponds and one natural pond.
In the light of day, these bodies of water can be serene spots to enjoy with your sweetheart. By night however, these bodies of water are like beacons for a jogger’s stealthiest foes. What are these stealthy foes? Creatures. Little critters of the wetlands that come out at night to sit in the moonlight all over the sidewalks. Frogs, worms, and snakes are nature’s landmines. Jog too fast and you risk stepping on one of these beasties. Jog too slow and you might as well be walking. Should you step on one of the creatures of the night, you will go straight to Jogger Hell. Beware, be prepared.
Recycled Water Lasers
A recycled water sprinkler system sounds like an awesome idea to help with water shortages, right? It’s not. Recycled water turns your morning run into a recreation of the Matrix. Jumping, dodging, and suddenly developing the ability to do the moonwalk away from straying poop lasers are everyday occurrences to sidewalk joggers. Once you’re hit, you will smell like recycled water until you get home and shower. The smell even lingers in the air. If you were lucky enough to miss the actual watering, you can still feel like you were there by the stench it left behind. Yay! Your only hope in surviving these poop-sprays is if your bug spray is strong enough to coat your senses. Beware, be prepared.
Cold-Blooded Dinosaurs: The World’s Oldest Assholes
What’s one of the worst parts of running in the dark in Florida, you might ask? Gators. We’ve all heard horror stories about Florida’s gators. In fact, we’re so famous for gators we named our most beloved college athletic team after them.* When you have so many swamps, ponds, and sunshine you’re bound to attract these cold-blooded dinosaurs. They’re not usually hard to avoid. They tend to be large and hang around bodies of water. It’s safe to say that if you stay away from their water, they’ll stay away from you.
However, even the world’s oldest assholes need a little love. Mating season, which lasts approximately from mid-April to May, is a dangerous time for running enthusiasts. During this time joggers, drivers, and anyone who likes to step into their own backyard should be wary. These massive A-holes are so desperate for love, and due in part to humans destroying their habitats to build more crap, they tend to pop up just about anywhere. Early mornings and late evenings may be perfect for joggers looking to beat the heat, but the darkness also provides great camouflage for gators snoozing near the sidewalk. Beware, be prepared.
Serenade Of The Sulcatas And Other Noisy Street Neighbors
If you’ve ever been blessed enough to listen to the serenade of a Florida night, you’d know what I’m talking about. Sulcatas, frogs, crickets, and who knows what else are loud as hell. It’s sweet to hear when you’re on your porch with a mug of hot cocoa, but for early morning or late evening runners, this serenade can be deadly.
Most of us like to run with earbuds. Who doesn’t want to listen to their favorite screamer songs at 4AM while jogging along the traffic-free roads? These two special times of the day are also when nature’s serenade turns into a screeching headache. You may be tempted to turn up the tunes in order to catch every scream and righteous lyric, but don’t. I’ll go ahead and repeat that last part, because it’s so damn important. DO NOT LISTEN TO LOUD MUSIC WHILE RUNNING IN THE DARK.
You may feel big and bad in your running shoes, but you are on of the bottom of the food chain out on the road. Cars, critters and creeps are dangerous. How can you hear potential danger if you’re trying to block out nature’s serenade with a loud music? As much as it sucks, don’t tune out the song of the streets. You never know what else you’re tuning out. Beware, be prepared, and be in tune with what’s around you.
* “Beloved” is a totally unbiased and accurate statement referring to the University of Florida Gators. Never mind the fact that I too am part of the Gator Nation. It is an unbiased and accurate description. End of story.