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Women’s Night Running

Women’s Night Running

I get it. I am not your usual thin, svelte, gazelle like long distance runner and MOST days, I am ok with that (yeah, some days I really am not….).

I have crossed the line at events in the very last handful of runners or in dead last more times than not and believe me the back, back, back of the pack is where the party is – it is also where often the most relaxed life loving people are ESPECIALLY out on road.

This has led me to some interesting points of view inside my own head over the last couple of months, especially as I finished my Ultra in Canberra in April.

It has also taken me to an interesting position regarding being female and being able to train outdoors at night.

Yep I have squishy bits, bits covered in cellulite and bits that bounce and move almost of their own accord when I run. Again, most days I am ok with this. This and my natural turtle tractor instincts make me slower than most other runners – distance or not. This kind of also makes me an easy target for hecklers when I am out training, the logic part of my brain gets that. The reptilian part of my brain freaks – completely and utterly out. When it’s dark and you are alone out there just trying to get your training done my first thought when this happens is “F#@$% off” quickly followed with “how the F#@$% do I get myself out of this situation?”. It isn’t fair, nor is it right that my brain goes there, and I more than anything wish this wasn’t the case.

I should be able to celebrate what my body and mind can do and achieve, but society almost entirely prevents this. The current societal attitude towards women is deplorable and it needs to stop. We want to train when we want and not feel like we need to arm ourselves with phone tracking, emergency call buttons and the like just to get our training done. It shouldn’t matter what we look like or how freakin slow we are going. We should be entitled to do this with NOTHING but enjoyment, instead of the fear and dread that we now feel.

I had an incident occur last week during one of my training runs (not the first unfortunately). This time I wasn’t heckled as I would normally be. I was about 20 mins into my 40-minute recovery easy run, and it was only 6.30pm/7pm on a Saturday night; so not late, but because the glorious thing of Daylight Savings has finished it was dark and I had my headlamp. I was headed for home (we live above a large park area in Melbourne’s North East that you have to go past either way you head home) and as I turned a corner to run past one of the footy ovals there were three guys and a bicycle on the ground (not on the road). There was that male standoff behaviour with one of the guys in the distance stalking towards the guy closest to me. I didn’t think much of it at first other than “oh man that could be interesting”. My reptilian brain started ringing bells at me though, enough for me to think I am going to go wide around this. As soon as I made it that decision to go wide, the guy that was a little further away looked at me and I honestly can’t tell but he might have slightly changed his direction. That was enough for my reptilian brain to SCREAM at me and I turned on my tail and got out of there. You can see it in my data from that run – my pace drastically increased simultaneously with my heart rate and the map clearly changes.

In Melbourne in the past few months we have had three – yes THREE young women followed, attacked and killed as they were doing their own thing.

This event, even though nothing happened directly to me, was enough in conjunction with the three women, to scare me from running on my own at night and I freakin HATE that!!! Running outside at night was my go-to, my happy place when I was at home. But now I feel like I am admitting defeat and heading inside to needlessly run in the one spot on the dreadmill and I hate it. There are only so many ways to make it interesting. It’s hot cause there are nowhere near enough fans, it’s kind of smelly, there isn’t enough places to put everything you need, and it is mind numbingly boring. But I am far safer there than outside on my own.

I hate to the bottom of my core that it is like this. It isn’t right. There are signs of it everywhere l, even when I run during the day, and people – generally young lads – toot and shout things out car windows, or mutter things under their breath as you run past. This is the start of the behaviour that makes us terrified to go out, live our lives and do what we want to do no matter what the time of day or night.

I ebb and flow from being the one that goes “stuff it I am heading outside, I am a strong empowered chick”, to being the one on the dreadmill, scared, alone, trying to keep myself safe. Right now, in this moment my safety matters more to me and I am most likely to head inside as the sun goes down.

This isn’t right. This isn’t fair. This ISN’T my fault!

I don’t have a solution, I really don’t, not a quick one any way – Any solution that I can think of relies on years of education, starting at a super young age.

How do we get people to call out their mates when they cross the line? How do we make them see within themselves that this behaviour is DISGUSTING. How do we tell society that the behaviour you walk past is the behaviour you accept?

Do you feel the same Glimmer Fam?

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