Women who run are all too aware of the safety measures they need to take if they're out alone. The murder of Mollie Tibbetts, who was killed while out running, has reignited a national conversation around our right to exercise outside without feeling unsafe — because the threat of being followed, yelled at, or assaulted is constant for women out in public. Women runners are often advised to take preventative measures to mitigate the risk of violence, despite the fact that victims of violence are never responsible for the actions of others.
And while the #MeToo movement has focused on harassment and abuse in spaces like the workplace, the importance of the movement goes beyond bringing abusers to justice. It's also showed a lot of people about the choices women make every day to feel safe, and running is one of those activities. Even though by rights anyone should be able to jog at 3 a.m. if they feel like it, few of us go out into the world in our running shoes without taking a few precautions. And taking those precautions can wear you down. Nine women who run tell Bustle what they wish they didn't have to think about every time they stepped out for a jog.
"Have my phone with me. Run with keys between my knuckles."
"For me it’s crossing the road and changing routes if I feel someone is following me... but that’s also true for just walking."
"I want to run in a park in the night time! Very well lit industrial areas are very boring and flat. I also don’t want to have to sprint through poorly lit sections of footpath."
"Run with headphones in, even if [I'm] not listening to anything, to avoid harassment."
"I avoid running in the dark unless [I'm] in well-lit, populated areas. I never run with headphones so I can hear approaching danger (be it people or traffic)."
"Setting my pace either to stay near people for safety, or to distance myself from other people, in a way that doesn’t seem obvious and risk offending anyone and attracting attention. Pretending to stretch or take a break that I don’t actually want so that people aren’t trailing behind me. Basically a lot of behavior-setting that isn’t based on what I actually want to achieve from my run."
"I wouldn't go running if I didn't have my dog (a Doberman-Rottweiler cross). He's a social butterfly but people judge him based on his physique and sometimes I'm ok with that."
"Time my runs so I’m finished before it gets dark."
"Wish I didn’t have to so vigilantly take notice of suspicious people/vehicles. Wish I didn’t mentally catalog myself as unprepared or even stupid for daring to jog without a weapon on me. Wish I didn’t run with one earbud out so I can react faster if someone approaches from behind. Wish I didn’t feel the need to tell someone where I’m going."
For a lot of women, a jog outside isn't just a jog. It's a potential minefield. One day, it would be nice to just throw on some running shoes and head out to sweat without having to worry about our safety — but until then, women will likely continue to take these measures.