Safety concerns for runners forced to the forefront
Eliza Fletcher was 34 years old. She was a mother, a wife and a teacher. She was abducted during an early morning run in Memphis and murdered.
Tragedies like this don’t occur to runners every day, but stories about being followed and harassed during runs are being shared throughout the running community. According to a 2021 survey from RunRepeat, 45% of female runners said they’ve experienced harassment while running. One in ten said they’ve experienced physical harassment.
That harassment caused 60% of those runners to change their route or the time of day they run. Others began carrying protection, switched to a treadmill or stopped running solo.
If you don’t want to trade in running on the road for a treadmill, what can you do to stay safe?
- Share your running route. Let friends and family know where you’re at – where you’re running and when to expect you back. There are a number of apps that allow you to share your location during your run.
- Vary your route and routine. Runners sometimes have a favorite route to run, but variation is key. Don’t run at the same place every day.
- Be aware of your surroundings. You don’t have to avoid wearing headphones and listening to music or a podcast, but keep the volume low so that you can hear what’s going on around you.
- Carry protection during your run. These include items such as pepper spray, portable sirens or a sharp object. Make sure you know how to use them.
- Run with a group, if possible. If someone is with you, it’s less likely that you’ll be attacked or kidnapped.
Everyone deserves to feel safe when they run. It’s not the fault or the responsibility of a runner to protect themselves from harassment. However, until society changes, we can make changes to help us stay safe.