A Stressful Long Run

Each Wednesday I join in with the Wednesday Word link up, hosted by Debbie from DebRuns. She provides us with a word prompt to write about. This week’s word is stressful. Click on the button below to see who else is linking up this week or to join in.

Deb Runs

I decided to share something that happened on Saturday’s 10 mile long run that made the entire run stressful. I mentioned it briefly on Monday, and here’s the full story.

Around mile 1.5, I had an encounter with a loose, unfriendly German Shepherd. Not a normal German Shepherd, though. This dog was huge. Originally, I thought the dog must have been a mutt with strong GS features. But after some research, I now think it was a ‘King Shepherd’ which is a cross between a German Shepherd and a Newfoundland. I’m not exaggerating with the below picture (remember, I have big dogs).

king size german shepherd

As I was running downhill in a section with a lot of blind curves, I looked up to find a large animal charging toward me down the next hill. At first I thought it was a large wolf or a small bear. Then I saw a smaller white dog that was with the King Shepherd and realized it was two dogs charging towards me. With no owner anywhere in sight.

Photo from the hill the dogs charged down. I was at the top of the next hill running towards them.

I stopped, stood still, and fumbled over my hydration pack, trying to get my pepper spray (which I keep in my sports bra – a fact I had momentarily forgotten). There was no time for me to grab a stick or rock, like I usually would, with the two dogs bearing down on me. I yelled for them to get back and get away from me and the smaller dog did slow to a stop. But the larger dog ran almost all of the way up to me while barking and growling. When he was about two to three feet from me, he bared his teeth. There was still no owner, and I couldn’t even see if the dog had a collar on. I had my pepper spray out, and I sprayed him across the bridge of his nose and possibly a little bit in his eyes. The dog stopped charging, but stood there just staring at me.

A few seconds later (which felt more like a minute) the owner came around the corner and yelled for his dogs. The small one went back to him immediately, but the large one continued to stare me down. Finally, he turned and very slowly made his way back to his owner at the top of the next hill, nearly a tenth of a mile away. I didn’t move an inch until both dogs were leashed. Then I walked up the hill and past the owner, as he apologized to me profusely. I asked him if he had water (he stated he did not) and informed him that I had used some pepper spray on his larger dog but didn’t think it had gotten directly in it’s eyes. The dog didn’t appear to be in pain or distress as I went by. I think using my pepper spray was the necessary action, but I still hated I had to do it.

The incident itself was pretty stressful for me. It also really affected me the rest of my run. I was frightened, stressed, and couldn’t relax and enjoy my run at all. There are so many blind curves on the two trails I ran on, and I was just waiting to encounter another loose dog.


As I continued to run (bear in mind I was only 1.5 miles into a 10 mile run) I waffled back and forth about what to do. Should I cut the run short? Change my route? Bag it all together? Maybe go somewhere else? I finally decided to just follow my original out-and-back plan, but felt freaked out the rest of the time. I actually ended up finding a pointy stick about a foot and a half long to carry with me the rest of the run. People gave me funny looks (which I didn’t care about), but it made me feel a bit safer.

Tell me about a time when a run or workout has become stressful for you.

16 thoughts on “A Stressful Long Run”

  1. Encountering dogs off leash without owners was a daily occurrence when I lived in Austin; thankfully, it’s very, very rare here. I used to carry citronella spray, which won’t hurt them, and may/may not deter them.

    And yes, I had to use it many times back when I lived in TX.

    Heck, before I actually had dogs of my own, I once had a dog literally follow me into the house (just a bit, and that one was a friendly one).

    Thankfully I haven’t had an experience like yours; of course it would freak you out!

    I once got very lost while running on vacation and let me tell you, that adrenaline sure makes you run faster!

    1. There used to be a dog around here that we nicknamed ‘Mr. Boy’. He was a Jack Russel and he would run a lot of my runs with me. He would often wait in our front yard in the afternoons for me each day, which was pretty funny (although our dogs weren’t really a fan of that). Then one day he was gone and I haven’t seen him since.

      Adrenaline is a powerful thing! Being lost is an awful feeling – I bet it definitely helped you pick it up a lot.

    1. This was the first time in four years I’ve needed to use my pepper spray. Hopefully it will be another four, at least, before I need it again!

  2. Smart idea to carry the stick! You just never know. I thought of you this morning when I got “attacked” by a dog this morning on my run. It was a very small dog – maybe a Maltese? He ran up to me and actually hit the back of my foot with his feet or head, but didn’t actually bite me. All the while, I’m yelling no at him. I finally clapped my hands and yelled “go home!”, just then his owner came around the corner of their house and called her dog back. Not nearly as scary as a huge dog, but it got my blood pumping!

    1. I’m glad that dog didn’t actually bite you. Small dogs still have teeth and can certainly bite you, too! I think they often tend to be more aggressive/unfriendly than larger breeds. Either type of encounter definitely gets your heart pounding.

  3. That sounds so stressful! I’ve had dogs run up from behind in my neighborhood and almost knock me down. One had his mouth on my behind but didn’t bite down thankfully (of course I’m kicking and hitting the dog with the owner staring at me like I’m the one at fault!) I would not feel bad about using the spray and would absolutely do it again, especially on an isolated trail.

    1. I think an encounter with a dog becomes infinitely more dangerous if they do succeed in knocking you down. I’ll say it again – I’m glad that one dog didn’t actually end up biting you! I don’t understand why some owners are so irresponsible.

  4. That’s really scary! I’ve had this on my mind since you texted me about it. It’s even scarier hearing the full details.

    When I lived in Fredericksburg, I headed out for a run one morning just as it was getting light. I ran from my neighborhood to another, but had to go down a pretty secluded short road between the two neighborhoods. As I ran by, I caught a guy out of the corner of my eye standing very close to a tree trying not to be seen. I’m sure I PR’d my next half mile until I felt safe when I got to a bunch of houses. I had to take the really long way home because I was afraid to run back down that road. I think I doubled my mileage that day.

    Thanks for linking up!

    1. I think you’ve told me about that story before – so scary! I would have been sprinting, too, and avoided the road on the way back.

      I always say go with your gut feeling. So if someone gives you a bad feeling in the pit of your stomach, trust that instinct and avoid them. Kim and I ran by a guy today that made us both felt uneasy and after passing him I looked over to see Kim discretely had her pepper spray out.

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