LIFE

Running Safety Tips For Women Because Harassment Is Alive And Kicking

Forty-three percent of women experience harassment while on a run, compared with just four percent of men.

16/12/2016 10:10 AM AEDT | Updated 16/12/2016 2:32 PM AEDT
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An unfortunate, but important discussion.

A look up and down as you run past. A cat call from a truck window. A condescending cheer of encouragement that begs you to meet his eyes.

Sound familiar? Welcome to a regular day's workout if you happen to run in a public space, and have a vagina.

According to a recent survey by Runner's World, 43 percent of women at least sometimes experience harassment on the run, compared with just four percent of men.

This kind of harassment is nothing new and in the vast majority of cases it is not life-threatening, but that doesn't take away from the fact it is pervasive and upsetting.

Erica King, founder of online running community Running Divas Australia said the question she gets asked most after what the best pair of running shoes are, is go figure, how to stay safe while running outside.

With more than 185,000 members globally, the online community was born out of King's frustration that her needs as a female runner weren't being met.

"As female runners we have particular needs and what I noticed in my own experience, and as our online community grew was that conversations around safety and harassment inevitably were coming up all the time," King told The Huffington Post Australia.

Ahead, King outlines six safety tips for every female runner.

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1. Take responsibility

"The first thing I'll say to women is that it's not enough to say 'it won't happen to me.' You need to take responsibility for your own safety and that means being aware there is a risk and taking measures to minimise it," King said.

2. Plan your route and assess the risks

Choose areas that are well-lit and have a bit of noise and activity. "Lots of women love trail running, but I'd never advise somebody to run in the bush alone, it is simply too easy for something to happen and doesn't allow you to get help easily," King said.

3. Tell somebody you're going

Letting somebody know you're going for a run is incredibly important, as is telling them where you are going and your expected time of return.

"This is particularly important when it's dark outside -- and for mums, this happens a lot as they'll go out running when the kids are asleep -- either early in the morning or at night," King said.

4. Take your phone

Your phone is absolutely essential not only for its GPS but in case you run into some kind of trouble. "There are also some great apps you can get that act as a security alarm you can activate if you feel you are at risk," King said.

5. Avoid wearing all black

While it might not be the most fashionable, bright colours are a much better option than all black. "Invest in some running clothing with reflective tabs to make yourself more visible," King said.

6. Keep your volume down low

"If you are listening to music, keep it at a very low volume and preferably, with only one earbud in so that you can always hear what's happening around you at all times," King said.

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