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Recently, I have rediscovered my love of running. Since moving to London a couple of months ago, it has been my exercise of choice for a few reasons: the roads are flat, it’s less humid (bar the recent heatwave) and, to put it bluntly, it’s a lot cheaper than a £200/month F45 membership.
While it’s obviously good for your physical health – and let’s face it, many pints and pies have thus far been consumed – something that has really surprised me is just how much it has impacted on my mental health. I sleep better, I am less anxious and – the trump card – there’s the runners’ high.
Which is why recent news that women are becoming increasingly scared to hit the pavement is so concerning. Nay, devastating.
A new report has shown that one in three women have been harassed out running, and nearly half said they didn’t feel safe when going out alone.
The subject was also recently debated on Twitter, when US writer Amanda Deibert asked women: “What do you use when you go out running?”
The tweet sparked more than 2000 responses from women around the world, sharing their different self-defence mechanisms and essentially, exposing the gravity of the situation.
Many women in America revealed they carried knives to keep themselves safe, while one woman said her daughter ran with “a vest, and we modified it to carry a knife”.
Another added: “Knife, tactical flashlight, dog, and/or pepper spray. Phone. No head phones or one earbud only (in daylight). Never use a restroom on a trail/path unless someone is w/me. But when I fell, cut open my chin, and still had 4 miles to get home, was I carrying first aid? Now I do.”
Women from other countries, such as New Zealand and the UK, where is is illegal to carry knives, said they took other precautions, such as taking dogs.
Or, putting keys in their fingers “like wolverine”.
In Australia, laws regarding such instruments vary state to state. For example, it is illegal to carry pepper spray in every state except Western Australia, unless the carrier has a “lawful excuse”. However, knuckle dusters are not prohibited anywhere in any state.
Essentially, the message here is clear: Women are being robbed of the joys of running for fear of their own safety.
Which makes the next question: What are we going to do about it?