lone women running off road

lone women running off road

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08/10/2009 at 12:05

I always try and run off road, it's one of the main things I like about running. Getting away from kids and traffic for an hour and running through the woods, trails or down the canal for an hour. Fresh air, peace and quiet. Also, I'm a bit self conscious about being overweight and running so slowly so prefer not to run on road where I'm subject to looks and beeps and abuse and people I know driving by! I also like running on my own, at my own pace, with my own thoughts.

 However, I have so many people telling me not to run alone, telling me horror stories of how 'a woman got raped last year on these trails' and 'a strange man grabbed someone i know once'. I run in a club and hardly any of the women there run off road cos they're all too scared to run alone.

I feel like I do my best to reduce risk, I never run in the dark, I always tell someone my route and what time I'm coming back. I run with only 1 headphone on and if I see a lone man/group of men  in front of me I turn my music off.

To be fair, most of the places I run have quite a lot of dog walkers/cyclists/horseriders but there are times when I don't see anyone for the whole hour.

So..my question is this?

Do I stop running alone to avoid the 'slight' risk of something happening OR do I carry on, it's my countryside too and aren't we letting the sickos win if all women are afraid to go out on there own?

Do other women feel like me?

Having said this...does any know if you can still get 'rape alarms'? I used to have one as a student but never seen them since.

08/10/2009 at 12:09

I run on my own off road often.

I also know other women who would not do so - and tell me I shouldn't.

I ignore them.

In ten years of running on my own in the woods I have never felt even slightly threatened, and enjoy the peace and quiet, the birdsong, the sound of the wind in the trees.

To miss out on all that for some vague perceived threat would be a complete shame.

08/10/2009 at 12:16
I don't run alone offroad as I feel nervous and am not proud of being such a big wuss- and I think that it would be a shame if you stopped doing something you enjoy because of someone else's perception of the threat.

If you are really concerned or have to justify your actions to husband or whatever then you could prob talk to local police or look up crime stats. There is always the chance of running into the 1 in a million nutjob/axe murderer but the same could be said of walking down the high street at the wrong time.
08/10/2009 at 12:21

I often run alone offroad and sometimes in the dark too but it's all a matter of confidence and being aware of your surroundings. Don't wear an MP3 so you can hear what's going on around you.

Everyone seems to have a scare story but have you noticed it's nearly always a friend of a friend? You could live your life in fear, or you can live you life how you want it to be. For me that means taking reasonable precautions - no MP3, taking a phone and sometimes saying roughly where I'm going and how long I'll be -  but getting on with it

08/10/2009 at 12:21

While you have to be aware of such things I don't let it bother me when I go running alone. I rarely see another soul but I'm lucky as I live out in t'sticks, so the people I come across are usually farmers / farm workers.

If I'm running down a lane and there's a car or van parked up with a guy in it (prob just slacking off work) I usually make an effort to do a snot rocket or spit as I run by. Not at the car, I hasten to add!

I figure by making myself as unattractive and 'blokey' as possible (which isn't difficult anyway) they'd be less interested. Unless someone's got a mucous fetish, that is...  

08/10/2009 at 12:28
bloke speaking here so I have a different view I guess

my views are similar to Wilkie and I know my missus would agree

there's always a small risk but you have to factor in what the likely real risk is.

every time you jump in a car, catch a plane, go for a bike ride there is a danger of something happening - the same with a run

in reality there is probably less chance of you being attacked whilst out running alone than being killed in a car accident

my missus avoided a potential rape in a foreign city many years ago as she kept her calm and screamed very loudly whilst kicking the perp hard - he fled the scene. frightened the feck out of her but hasn't stopped her walking through big cities alone at night when needed.

if you want to add precautions you can do so by taking martial arts classes, carrying an alarm/mace spray or similar, run with a big dog etc

decide the risk factor - make your choice
08/10/2009 at 12:35

I also love running off road - most of my winter races are on cross country or forest trails, so I try and train twice per week in this environment. I look forward to these runs more than the road / pavement runs.

 I think you're doing the right thing - you cant beat a good run in the fresh air. Echo what the above posters say - stay training as you are and carry on taking precautions.

 In 15 years of running off road I've never encountered a threat in the country yet - wish the same could be true about busy built up areas (dogs, chavs, cars, you name it!)

08/10/2009 at 12:36

I'm a lone runner and I really enjoy it. I certainly wouldn't let a slight concern about something that is highly unlikely to happen interrupt that.

H is more of a worry pot, but then he's a worry pot about everything! I make sure he knows roughly where I'm going, and when I expect to be back (I usually add a bit, just so he's not stood at the door when I puff back home!). I've also got a high vis vest and have just invested in a head torch. Not sure either will do much to ensure safety, but they probably make it less likely I'll get run over or fall into a pot hole and break something.

I had a very bad experience while at university and I know I avoided something very much worse due to the intervention of a bus driver. I can honestly say that is the only time I have EVER been in fear of my life. And I got off with nothing more than a few bruises and a scare. It hasn't left me with a fear of buses or going out alone, although it has left some reservations about some things. What that experience did do is put all of those mild concerns into persepctive; they simply pale into insignificance. I wouldn't say I invite an incident, but then I don't believe that I was inviting one on that occasion either, I was doing something I'd done frequently before, I just got unlucky.

Obviously it's something everyone has to decide for themselves and your own personal risk assessment will probably be slightly different from everyone else's. I wouldn't criticise anyone else who decided that running alone at night was not something they felt comfortable doing. I'd listen to the concerns, but would want something more than hearsay before I altered my patttern of behavoir significantly.

08/10/2009 at 12:37

Ditto Wilkie!

08/10/2009 at 12:45

The only advice I can offer is don't be too predictable on your runs/routes/times. Alter the times of your runs and routes frequently.

Good luck  

08/10/2009 at 13:00
I'm not running at the moment but have always done a fair amount of my training off-road and alone. MS is very laid back and wouldn't have worried unless I was about 24 hours late, so I never had to contend with him fussing either. I feel that there is a greater risk of fallng and trying to get help (hence a phone in my pocket) than being subjected to any sort of attack.
08/10/2009 at 13:05

I used to worry but the more I've done it the less i think about it.  Plus I took a self defence class which gives me some extra confidence.  My main worry is falling and since there's no reception where I run I'd be stuffed if something happened.

Ideally I'd like to run with a dog but I've not yet found one I can borrow just for running. .....which reminds me I should make more of an effort to look again now that its getting darker.

08/10/2009 at 13:05

I forgot to say that I also run on my own in the dark (not off road, thoug - I like to see where I'm going).

Friends/family tell me this is dangerous too. 

However, I have to walk home from the station after work in the dark in winter, which is NOT perceived as being so dangerous, for some reason!

Why should running be more dangerous than walking home from work?

08/10/2009 at 13:07
I have thought it was safer, Wilkie!
seren nos    pirate
08/10/2009 at 13:08

Hi I didn't go running off road for the last 4 years as I was worried...........more worried of falling over breaking a leg and not being able to find a signal on my mobile...........being attacked didn't really enter my head as I can't think of anything more off putting than an overweight middle age woman sweating like mad with a red face.................

Ilast month i finally gave it ago and I love it now. long runs don't require an MP3 player as there is so much to watch and see and concentrate on. Its the way forward for me but I do tell someone roughly where I'm going and when............just incase I break that leg.............

I worked out I'm more likely to be hit by a car running on the pavements than seriously hurt myself on the mountain........but its always a chance

08/10/2009 at 13:25
I live in the country side and was thinking about lone running. I guess you always wonder if something can go wrong, but that can happen anytime, anywhere. I would like to do some offroad running, so I will have a rethink....
Crash Hamster    pirate
08/10/2009 at 13:31

The only spot of advice that I'd add is 'know your route'...Squish runs alone round country lanes at night; there's little risk as no axe murderer would risk hypothermia on the off chance of a runner (or anyone else) going past; if anyone were to stop in a car, she knows the locations of the public footpaths, drives etc which branch off from the route; if someone were to chase her, they'd be led away from their car in the dark down paths familiar to her but not them...

...which puts the boot firmly on the other foot

08/10/2009 at 13:46

Yup, I agree with all of the above.   I like trail running and accept there is more risk of injury from falling etc than attack by a random nutter.  I run with music on and I take my phone.  I've startled more people i.e. dog walkers and kids walking to school than I've been startled.  I also tell myself not to get hysterical about the man urinating against a tree, or a man in combat trousers crossing the road, or the guy near a campsite who was barefoot in January or the bare chested guy in just shorts and running shoes who smiled and said hello as he ran past me on a hot July day.

I agree with Life's To Short regarding risks when not running off road.  I agree with Wilkie regarding walking home after dark.  

I won't run after dark on my own.  Did it once with my personal trainer.  I had a head torch and high viz and felt confident as I had a companion but it's simply harder to see the uneven ground, the dog mess etc.  On a psychological level other people are more sharply tuned to risk especially the sound of footsteps running i.e. they will perceive ME as the threat.  As I was once advised on self defence course, don't invite someone to fetch you a 'four penny one' because of the way YOU are acting.

08/10/2009 at 13:58

Don't forget that the media (and Government) seem to regard their main role these days as scaring the populace into submission, so don't let them win by stopping you doing something you enjoy. Yes, it's terrible when people get attacked, but the number of stranger sexual assaults is nowhere near as high as people think it is. Plus most attackers want to be in control and will find an easy target. They'd rather go for someone walking or drunk than someone obviously fit and healthy and moving at speed. That's not to say you shouldn't take sensible precautions, but please don't let media-exaggerated fear stop you doing something you love.

08/10/2009 at 14:03
That's so true Fish, about the media.  I also find that the friends of mine who are worried about me going out alone, don't speak from experience, because they're nervous of being out alone and don't ever do it.
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