Female runners around the world have shared the ways they protect themselves while out running, with many women in America saying they carry knives.
Running makes us happier and healthier, and yet it can also make women fear for their lives.
A 2017 report by England Athletics showed that one in three women were harassed while out running, with nearly half of female runners saying they don’t feel safe when out alone.
Running in groups is often suggested as a way of staying safe – but why should we have to? Sadly, a viral Twitter debate on women’s running safety proves just how bad it can be for women who run solo.
A writer asked the question: what kind of protection do you use when you go out running?
Although many of the 800 replies from people around the world might sound shocking at first, they also build a true picture of the lengths women go to feel safe while exercising.
“One of my mom groups has a thread that is just women listing and recommending which kind of protection they take when them when they go out running (i.e. pepper spray, alarm necklaces, whistles, etc.) in case you wondered what being a woman is like,” wrote Amanda Deibert. “Also, women: what do you use when you go out running?”
With running being one of the most common exercises, the answers came in fast and highlighted the different ways women protected themselves in their countries.
Perhaps most shockingly, many American women said they carry a knife to keep safe while running.
“When running, I have my knife and taser. Everywhere else I add my pepper spray and extra knife. You REALLY can’t be too careful, just know how to use it because it could be used against you if you aren’t prepared,” one reply stated.
“My daughter runs with a vest and we modified it to carry a knife which she knows how to use to devastating effect,” added a mother.
A third wrote: “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.”
As it is illegal to carry a knife around in the UK, women use different tactics.
“And as an American living in the UK. None of the “protective devices” are legal over here. So I just run during daylight hours and stay very aware. I don’t hesitate to turn around and change my route if I feel unsafe,” said one user.
Another shared: “I hold my keys in my first with the car key poking out to act as a weapon. I live in a leafy town in North London, UK and we have the same fears.”
A woman in Japan also wrote: “It’s been a big conversation in Japan too. People discuss if it’s right for women and girls to carry a safety pin to protect themselves from gropers on trains during rush hours. I have been disgusted by some comments to say ’ It’s just groper, don’t overreact.”
And over in New Zealand, a women tweeted: “There is nothing I am legally allowed to carry for protection in New Zealand and I don’t have dogs so I don’t go running much less leave the house on my own when I can avoid it.”
One form of protection that most of the women who replied had in common was their pet dogs.
“My daughter takes a 90lbs Pitbull,” wrote another mother.
“I think a lot about how someone could physically pick me up off the street and kidnap me, but most people cross the street once they see River,” added a dog owner.
Although carrying around knives is obviously a contentious issue, it’s the fact that so many women are doing this that really needs to continue being discussed here.