I waiver between overthinking running solo and completely not thinking about it, if I’m honest—so it was really eye-opening to interview a former undercover police officer and serious runner a couple of years ago about some of her best tips for how to stay safe while running. Now, before I get into this, I’ll caveat it with the fact that it is absolute BS that we have to think about this, and the amount of victim-blaming in the media for the women runners who have been murdered and assaulted on the run is complete crap. It’s ridiculous that we should have to think about this. But we do.
Since I wrote this article in 2019, this article has only become (sadly) more and more relevant. Last night at dinner, my girl friend and I were ruminating on this, talking about an early morning interaction she had while running the other day. The situation was innocuous: She was running with a (male) friend early in the morning, while it was still dark, and they ran into another guy who was stopped and looking for something on the ground. Her friend immediately stopped and asked if he could help with anything. The guy, as it turned out, had lost an AirPod when he took off his buff. They ended up finding it and continuing on, but my friend was wondering: If she’d been alone, would she have stopped? Absolutely not, we decided. In fact, when in that situation if either of us had been alone, we both would have opted to cross the street or pivot and run in another direction altogether. That just plain sucks, but it is a fact of life for women running solo. What can we do? What should we do?
The most important thing I took from it? If you’re uncomfortable, it’s totally OK to be ‘rude’ and remove yourself from a situation, ignore someone’s seemingly friendly overtures, etc. … That advice was so simple but something I never really thought about, but it really hit home. You have the right to feel safe when you run, and you shouldn’t feel the need to ‘be nice’ to everyone, especially if you’re feeling uncomfortable. My favorite quote from this article I did with the undercover cop for Nylon:
“Every single one of us has instincts. The first thing is that you should always go with your instinct. Women are used to suppressing that. Stop feeling the need to believe other people, and if someone gives you the creeps, keep away from them. The worst case is that you look a little rude. Best case scenario, you’re right, and you averted disaster. If your spider-sense tingles, remove yourself from the situation.”
Over on Nylon, the cop + I discussed her best tips for running and feeling/staying safe and you can read the rest here: