Running Alone While Female

There’s been a lot of talk about running alone, specifically, on running alone while female. It’s been in my brain for quite some time so I felt the need to write about it to let it out.

If you’ve been reading HFM for quite some time, you may know that I had a really scary creeper experience about 3 years ago.  It was in November when it was super dark in the early morning.  I never even gave a thought to the darkness prior to that day.  I was always cautious and alert but never hesitated to head out for a run by myself. I looked forward to the early morning quiet.

But that morning, a guy followed me in his car and made me freaked out about running alone in the dark.  Especially since I remembered seeing his car three days prior on a different route.

How long had he been following me? 

And would he do it again?

Since that day, I’ve been very fortunate to have running buddies who enjoy running in the early morning as much as I do.  I haven’t needed to go out solo as much as I used to.  For the longest time, if I didn’t have anyone to run with in the morning, I’d run on the treadmill or fit it in in the daylight hours.

At some point, I’m not sure when, I started running in the dark again.My anxiety about the dark lessened but I still don’t feel totally comfortable.

My first mile is always faster than I intend because my adrenaline is thumping. I’m always on alert.  I take notice of ever car, person or thing that I encounter.  I carry mace with me. But lately, I’m not too sure I feel comfortable running in the dark or the light.  It seems like there are more and more reports of women being attacked or killed no matter what time of day it is.  I angers me so much that I can’t have the freedom of running anywhere without feeling like I’m prey for some sick predator.

I think a large majority of women have their own scary story of running alone. It’s not an isolated incident that only happens in big cities. It happens everywhere.

Part of me wonders if my worry is exaggerated by the media coverage of these events. Are there more incidents of women being attacked or is it just reported on the news more so it seems that way?

The news of Mollie Tibbetts recently made me even more sad and angry.  She went out for a run, something we all do every single day.  It was something that she enjoyed.  Something that she looked forward to.

When I heard the news, I was thankful that I was meeting a friend the next morning for a predawn run for some comfort and security. We talked about what we encounter daily as female runners.  How it’s not right that we live with this fear over our heads every time we head out the door. We talked about how crazy it was that some people were practically blaming Mollie for going out for a run alone. Like she did something wrong!  We also talked about how we aren’t going to let fear stop us from doing what we love.

I wish I had a solution for all of this. What I wish for even more, is that I didn’t even need to write a blog post about this.  My wish is that all women could run, hell, just walk out of their house without having to fear what will happen.

What I do know is that I’m still going to run. I’m still going to run alone.  I’m not going to let fear win.

If you need a refresher on safety tips for running alone, HERE’S a post I wrote a couple of years ago.

Stay safe friends.

Linking up with Coaches Corner and Wild Workout Wednesday.

 

19 comments on “Running Alone While Female

  1. I was attacked over 25 years ago while running in the dark and, even though I was able to fight myself free and run away it changed the way I thought about running alone forever. When I have to run early I may as well be doing a speed workout because I definitely run faster. I also keep my route simple and on the main road. I’ve never worried too much about being alone on trails after daylight but perhaps I should. It does anger me that women have to think about this. I do love that women want to stand up and take their safety back, saying that no one is going to scare them from running, but as someone who’s been there, I think that your life is more important than just taking a stand.
    Debbie recently posted..26+ Weird, Gross and Crazy Things Runners Do (that normal people don’t get)My Profile

    1. I remember your story from years ago when I first started reading your blog. It definitely made me change a lot of my running in the dark habits. Such a scary thing. I don’t know if I’d ever be able to run solo again after that. It’s interesting your comment about running on trails. I have a friend who runs practically nothing but trails and says she feels safer there than on the road. Most women won’t run trails alone because of fear of what’s out there. It took me awhile to run trails solo but now I do it but am still hyper aware just like on the road. And I totally agree with you that life is more important that running.

  2. I used to run alone, in the dark without giving a second thought but now I tend to run (long runs) in groups and only run alone for shorter runs after the sun rises 🙁

  3. I only run alone when it’s light outside, but even then, i am hyper vigilant about my surroundings. I often find myself looking behind me more often now just to see who is around me.

    1. I had a new running buddy comment that I notice everything after I said something about a car that had gone by us twice. I think it opened her eyes even if it’s during the day, you can’t just zone out. You don’t have to be paranoid, just aware of your surroundings.

  4. The Mollie Tibbins story was so sad. Every so often these senseless attacks happen to runners and it’s so scary. I work early so it’s very rare when I am able to run before sunrise. I live in a very safe neighborhood but you never know…it’s important to keep alert and aware, but if something does end up happening, it’s the perpetrator that is to blame!
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    1. The funny thing is that I feel like I live in a safe neighborhood yet we’ve had two serious incidents here lately. I guess you never know!

  5. It is sad and very scary that women have to be afraid to go out and do what they love doing. I like to think we live in a very safe neighborhood but you can’ t take that for granted at all. You have to be vigilant and aware. Thankfully I do most of my runs w friends and I believe that’s the safest way to go

    1. I’m lucky that I don’t absolutely have to run in the dark. On the days that I do, I’m super thankful for running buddies willing to meet up. There’s safety in numbers. Or at least it feels like that. Although, I don’t let my guard down even with company. Or during daylight hours. You just never know now.

  6. I agree…we cannot let fear (or evil) win. But, we do have to be mindful of our surroundings and go with our gut instincts. Mollie’s story is so tragic…our daughter knew her, and our whole expanded community has been devastated by her loss but also inspired to keep her legacy alive and strong.

  7. Where I live used to be really safe, but homelessness and drug use has gotten exponentially worse in the past year or so. It makes me really nervous on my runs alone and even sometimes runs with my dog, and I usually try to follow my gut feeling and change my route if I come across some homeless men that make me feel comfortable. I feel awful for even saying that, but as a woman who runs alone often, I really try to be hyper-vigilant about my safety.

    1. I feel the same way. My area is relatively safe but there’s just so many weird things going on lately. The homelessness and drug use has increased. I never would see anyone early in the morning but now I’m seeing men wondering the streets at that time. It’s unnerving for sure. My gut says better be safe than sorry. If it makes you uncomfortable, go another way.

  8. Ugh, this whole topic makes me SO angry! Particularly when an incident happens (already bad) and then (to add insult to injury) people basically blame the woman for running alone, when the blame 100% belongs on the asshole who perpetrated the attack. It’s really despicable. We should have the same freedom to move through the world without fear as men do, and it makes me sad and angry that because of a few “bad apples” we often don’t. For my part, I pretty much always run solo (it’s pretty much impossible to find compatible partners with similar schedules, and besides running is my time to recharge which doesn’t happen effectively with other people around) and when/wherever I want (and I haven’t had any truly creepy experiences…just the odd honk or random scream out a car window once in a great while). That includes in the dark at times…unavoidable in the winter on a work day and if I don’t get my run or some kind of decent exercise in it will not be good for me or those around me. I carry pepper spray, don’t use headphones, and generally pay attention to what’s going on, but I refuse to limit when/where I run or be dependent on others to get out–that’s letting the terrorists win and I will not do that and would suggest that no one else do so either. It shrinks your world and takes away from your quality of life, and it implies that you are OK with a messed-up situation. If you live somewhere that it is truly that unsafe to go out for a run, maybe it’s time to move?

  9. Oh the dangers! I’ve had my share of stalking male strangers. I have my two young kids with my in my double stroller while being followed. I must say, having a mace with me only brought little confidence. I had made sure to quickly grab my mace, pull out my phone recording, and I immediately turned around to run the opposite way and captured their face secretly *just in case*. It’s heartbreaking when all we want to do is run! I didn’t run that path for a while , let alone run besides the treadmill at home or the gym. My kids were missing our stroller runs!

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