Fear, Love and Naivety

It is well for the heart to be naive and for the mind not to be – Anatole France

It is pretty much inevitable.  If you’re a female runner, someone is going to ask you about fear.

Aren’t you afraid?

Of getting attacked by a wild animal out there?

Of running in the dark?

Of running alone?

That you’ll attract the wrong kind of attention in those clothes?

Didn’t you hear about that girl?  

The one who was abducted?

The one who was assaulted?

The one who got attacked by the raccoon?

Shouldn’t you protect yourself?

Run in a group?

Run somewhere safer?

Carry pepper spray, or a knife, or a gun?

The assumption that you feel, along with the judgement, is that you are somehow naive.  That you are oblivious to the dangers in the world.  People believe the warnings they give, may help you see the folly of your ways, that they can save you not only from lurking dangers, but from yourself.

Running is my safety valve, and running in solitude is a balm for my soul.  In a world where we are constantly hammered with information, much of it with a message of fearful urgency, it’s how I decompress and keep to myself.  Connecting with nature helps give my life sanity and meaning, and I refuse to let the panic of society infringe upon that.


Des doing her thing!

I know that dangers exist, both in my running and in everyday life, but I refuse to let them be the focus of my energies. I refuse to let them rob me of my joy.

With the passage of time, I feel the world’s message has become even more one of fear, hatred, and separation. The only way to protect yourself is to put up walls, keep the danger out.  Or maybe increase your stockpile of weapons, words, or money to use against others.  Become small, shrewd, mean. 

However, I choose to face the world, not with naivety, not with fear, but with courage and hope.  When I watch some of the horrible things that happen around the world, what I see is a an isolated few committing great evil.  The other thing I see is how people respond in those situations.  Reaching out with love to their fellow humans to do whatever they can to help.  That love is courage, which is more powerful than any hate or fear.

Des enjoying the solitude of the trails. PC: Tania Lezak Photography

On the trails, I know danger exists.  But what I see even more of is a connection to nature, a vibrant trail community, human determination and perseverance.

Therefore, I’ll continue to hit the trails and let my love and hope flow with the single track. And if that makes people think I’m a little naive…. I’m ok with that.

Feature Photo: Tania Lezak Photography

Call for Comments:

How often are you warned about running trails? 

What is your response to the warnings?



Deserae Clarke

Deserae Clarke

Des is a crunchy, plant-powered, trail-loving ultra runner. She grew up exploring the woods of central PA, and currently lives and runs in Arizona.

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1 thought on “Fear, Love and Naivety”

  1. Hi Des, I’m new to Trail Sisters and just read your 2017 article on fear, love and naivety. It made me laugh as it only gets worse as you get older. As a 68 yr old still running marathons and hoping to transition to trails and ultras, I am constantly having chubby, non-exercising friends give me advise and caution me that: I could have a heart attack (could have that in my sleep also and yet I still sleep each night;) you’ll ruin your knees (I’m one of the few without a knee replacement;) I could be assaulted (I’m the one that took a self-defense class to deal with that one, all I have to say is don’t sneak up behind me and say ‘boo’.) Anyway the list goes on and on. Not sure what age or the amount of grey hair that is the tipping point for all these ‘you could die’ scenarios that non-exercisers have but be forewarned with age comes unsolicited advise from sedentary experts. Take care. Sal


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