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Mukesh Pitroda recalls a love-hate relationship with running starting in the fifth grade. “My interest in running started because my father had had a heart attack, and part of his preventive care regimen included running. I was inspired to start up, too and joined the cross-country team—but shin splints and being one of the slower kids sapped my enthusiasm.” Mukesh gave running a try again in eighth grade, during college, and in his mid-20’s—and each time his interest soon waned. “It wasn’t until I was in my early 30s that everything came together: the right shoes, the right gait, a community of other runners, and the motivation to do a first race. I liked it. I wanted to be a healthy role model for my kids, and having others around me motivated me.”

Mukesh soon found that running is physically as well as mentally challenging. “When you start off, your limitations are physical. The more you do and the more you push, the more you realize that your limitations are mental. The strength you develop permeates the rest of your life.”

As he logged more miles, Mukesh began to see convergence between his running and his two decades practicing self-defense. “As I started doing more and more trail running out at Waterfall Glen, I started actively thinking about staying safe on the run. I realized I had ideas that could help other runners.” On a Ragnar trail race, he could see apprehension on other runners’ faces as they encountered each other in the dark. He founded AssureStride to help teach runners the basics of self-defense and best practices for being safe while out running.

November is Running Safety Month, and Mukesh offers some tips for fellow runners: “Be visible out there—I can’t tell you how many runners I see without any lights or reflective gear. And, if you can, run with someone. If that’s not possible, tell somewhere where you’re going and when you’ll be back, and consider using a phone app for personal security.”

For more information on runner safety and Mukesh’s programs, visit

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