Traditional conventional wisdom has held that female runners should never hit the path alone. It’s rule number one in the “stay safe while running” handbook. But why shouldn’t women be able to run alone the same way they travel alone, work alone and accomplish great feats alone?
A realistic attitude about personal safety doesn’t have to mean limited behaviors, just smarter ones. With that in mind, here are some tips. Not for women runners, because they know what to do. This advice is for men who are sharing the running paths, streets and tracks with female runners. It’s up to them to help make the exhilarating sport of running safer for everyone.
We asked a group of female runners subscribing to our new Wearsafe system – a personal safety app that pairs with a wearable device designed to keep the wearer out of harm's way - what men should do while they share roads and raceways with their female counterparts.
No special treatment, please. Other than common courtesy, women don’t expect guys to pull off the track when they’re coming or stand to the side and to let them pass. Just share the roadway and have fun – better yet, set a great pace for them to match or beat!
No demeaning words, sounds or looks, thanks. No need to comment on what they’re wearing or whistle or catcall. To the guy that stood to the side and made a sweeping motion while saying, “after you my dear,” no need to do that either!
Make sure you’re aware of where/when your friends are running. When you’re not running together, make sure your friends have told you the route they’re taking and how long they should be gone. Importantly, offer to be in your friend’s Wearsafe network if they are running alone .
Be a good friend if you do witness something that seems unsettling. If someone is harassing a woman on the track or causing her concern in any way, be a good Samaritan and politely inquire if she’s OK or needs any help.
Listen to your female friend if she has a problem while on the course. There could be concerns about another runner or a “gut” feeling about something unsafe on a path and if a female runner wants to tell you, please listen. You may not be able to solve it, but listening could be invaluable.
There’s nothing more satisfying than a great run, and with great cooperation and communication, runners can help make each one safe and enjoyable.