The Infuriating Risk Women Runners Face

Photographed by Winnie Au.
For many people, going for a run outside isn't just exercise. It's a way to clear your head and find some peace of mind. But, according to a survey from Runner's World, women runners too often have to deal with the unfortunate interruption of harassment. After surveying 4,670 people (2,533 women and 2,137 men), Runner's World found that 58% of women under 30 say that they regularly face harassment when running outside. Of those women, 94% reported that men were the main perpetrators, and 79% said that it bothered them. Most tellingly, more women than men reported changing their running routines over concerns about harassment; 63% of women said they chose their running route because they feel it's a route where they'd be less likely to face someone who might want to harm them. That's in comparison to 23% of men. And while 41% of women chose their route to avoid unwanted attention, only 9% of men reported having to do the same. Moreover, 37% of men say they run outside at any time of the day, no matter how dark or light it is out, while only 8% of women can say the same, presumably out of concern for their safety. It's a rightful, validated concern — 30% of women reported having been followed on their runs, and 18% say they've been sexually propositioned while on a run, compared to 7% and 1% of men, respectively. Given how often women are harassed daily, simply for existing in public, it's unfortunately not particularly surprising that so many of us have experienced harassment while out running. But Runner's World's survey shows just how widespread — and gendered — this problem really is. There's no easy solution to this disparity, but the least we can do is get the conversation going about the realities of running while female.

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