Life, Training

Harassment and running- next steps

Right guys, I need your help.

Last week after having watched a BBC news item on 1 in 3 women being harassed when running, I had a good rant on Facebook. I was angry with how the news article was handled and the harassment issue itself.

Long story short:

  • Harassment when running is completely unacceptable
  • BBC news primarily focused on ways runners could change their behaviour
  • I believe, whilst we need to take responsibility for our own safety, it’s the arseholes doing the harassment who need to change their behaviour

I’ve always known harassment when out running is a thing. At least once a month I will get something ridiculous shouted at me, ranging from the bizarre to sexual and aggressive remarks. I’ve also had men block my path and every time an incident happens it’s turns the thing I love most (running) into an unpleasant and sometimes frightening experience.

I normally put my head down and quicken my pace, trying my best to ignore the situation. I like to think I’m pretty ballsey, but I’m not stupid!

What I wasn’t prepared for after posting my rant, was the number and severity of the stories that my running friends would share with me.

“Someone once threw a milkshake (which missed) and shouted fatty at me while I was running, they got a loud fuck off as a reply”

“I think back to my scariest experience when I was running along the railway near home so really secluded and quiet, when I passed two 20+ year old guys, they then ran to catch up with me and ran flanking me for about 5 mins. At first they didn’t say anything and I was totally shitting myself thinking if I ignore them they will get bored and go away. Eventually they started talking and asking questions and after a few one word answers from me they stopped and went back the way we came, but they had run either side of me for about 1/2 -3/4 of a mile!”

And I would like to highlight that it’s not just females having to put up with this, as a male teammate commented:

“I was also shot at and hit by an air rifle from a block of flats. The poor lady who was hanging her washing out thought it was her I was shouting c**t at”

This then prompted me to go into research and problem-solve over drive. None of this is okay. None of this should be allowed. But I kept on hitting dead ends. Whilst there is lots of articles out there documenting the harassment or giving runners safety tips,(runnersworldhuffingtonpost) there doesn’t seem to be any advice on how we change the behaviour of people doing the harassment.

Maybe I’m naive in thinking we can change how these arseholes act? But surely there must be something we can all do to make them realise the impact their actions are having.

“sometimes it gives me anxiety to leave the house to go running because I just can’t be bothered with the hassle off perverts”

So, what’s next? After much thought and googling, I feel my first port of call is sportscotland. They state clearly on their website that they believe “Sport should be open to everyone and conducted in a way which promotes equality and respect for others.”

So, I will be firing an email off to them later today, which will include the link to the blog. And also writing to their chief executive (apparently people still write letters these days). From there, I am really looking for your help. What else can we do? I don’t think it needs to be said, however I am going to say it just in case. Not matter what you’re carrying in your pants, your ideas are welcome. This isn’t a girl power only issue.

I run because I love it. Because it makes me a better and happier person. I would hate the thought that someone would miss out on this because of the acts of a small group of individuals.

I’m not expecting to solve the world-wide issue of harassment and sexism. But if we can get one more person out the door running and one less person dishing out abuse then I think it’s a step in the right direction.

If you want to get involved, contact or follow me on Facebook Instagram or Twitter.

Currently: Feeling pissed off!
Training this week: Currently on full rest- calf issue
Adventure so far this week: Hours of googling harassment and running!