Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Many Women Joggers and Runners Are Trying to Outrun Harassment

According to a survey from Runner's World magazine, 58% of women under the age of 30 say that they regularly face harassment when running outside. Of those women, 94% reported that men were the main perpetrators, and 79% said that it bothered them. The survey involved 2,533 women and 2,137 men.

More women than men reported changing their running routines over concerns about harassment; 63% of women said they chose their running route because they feel it's a route where they'd be less likely to face someone who might want to harm them. That's in comparison to 23% of men. And while 41% of women chose their route to avoid unwanted attention, only 9% of men reported having to do the same.

Also, 37% of men say they run outside at any time of the day, no matter how dark or light it is out, while only 8% of women can say the same, presumably out of concern for their safety. It's a rightful concern since 30% of women reported having been followed on their runs, and 18% say they've been sexually propositioned while on a run.

I've never been harassed while on a run, other than to have people yell at me "Get a job!" or "Hey look, it's Forrest Gump!" as I've run across states and countries pushing a jogging stroller of gear. I've never been attacked while running and have never actually witnessed a female jogger/runner harassed as she was outside logging miles. However, this is clearly an significant issue for women and I believe that there are several measures that women can take to stay safe.

TIP 1: Having a partner along with you can help. If not a partner, then perhaps a dog. Those wanting to harass a woman as she is running will be less inclined if she is not alone, or if she has a dog that would clearly protect her. TIP 2: Some women wear headphones as they run, playing music which can block out any sounds of verbal harassment. However, headphones can also prevent you from being aware of a possible attacker coming up behind you! TIP 3: Changing up your route also can help. If you run the same route every day, you may be a predictable target for someone on that route who may want to harass you. TIP 4: Run facing traffic because it makes it far more difficult for someone to stop and abduct you (not to mention that all runners should face traffic!). TIP 5: Carry runner's mace or pepperspray if it is legal in your state to do so. There are many kinds that can fit into the palm of your hand. I carried pepperspray on my stroller - in easy reach - as I ran across America, but thankfully never had to use it.

There are certainly things that women can do to help deter the possibility of harassment and/or attack, and I've only listed a few in this brief blog post. Be smart, be alert, and be safe!

Gotta Run,

Paul Staso