My favorite place to run is in the park, because it's shady in the summer, it's good hill training & the loops make planning mileage much easier. Not to mention that I have yet to find a gym that isn't totally stuffy. It's hard for a runner to get along in a gym I think, because it's a much more intense workout than many of the other members are doing & the climate control is usually not in our favor. (or maybe I'm just a sweaty gal -tee hee!)I'm an evening runner though & wouldn't go out there after dark alone, so during the winter I suffer through on the treadmill. If you guys are members of RR (or even if you're not) you can find running partners on their website www.nyrrc.org & they also have group runs every morning and night @ 6:30. The scary thing about getting attacked as a runner is that we obviously aren't a good source of cash, so right there you know you're dealing with a double threat! Carrying cell phones or pepper spray seems unlikely because we need to travel light. If you are in the habit of running outside alone, I would definitely mix up the route alot, so you don't become too predictable & keep to the main roads in the park rather than the bridle path or trails, etc. Bringing a dog along might help if you're in the fortunate position of having enough space for a decent size one, but most of the dog's I see around here would have a hard time fighting off a cat. Maybe you could make a few bucks on your morning runs if you offered to take out someone else's dog at the same time.