I’ve been a runner almost my entire life. I started running when I was seven and have continued ever since. I love the sport. With running, 99 per cent of my experiences have been positive, but, like most women, I’ve had a few moments on the trails where I’ve felt uncomfortable. Running is one of the most inclusive sports on the planet, yet it’s an activity that some women feel unsafe doing. This is something that needs to change.
I’m a runner who’s very confident in my ability. With the occasional exception, I’m able to run faster and for longer than anyone I meet on the trails. I know the roads and routes in my area well, and I’m physically strong. If I, an athlete who arguably has every advantage when it comes to running, can be made to feel uncomfortable on the trails, any woman can. With that in mind, here are some basic guidelines on how I, and most other women, want to be treated while on a run.
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Let people know you’re coming
Runners unintentionally startle people all the time. Especially if you’re running at dusk or dawn, let other runners know you’re getting close with a simple “on your left” or “passing on your right.” This gives them notice and allows for everyone to have enough space to do their thing.
When you’re passing someone, try your best not to linger behind or in front of them. And on this note, please don’t race. No one likes engaging in a race they didn’t ask for–just go at your own pace.
Don’t comment on appearance
Commenting on another runner’s appearance isn’t a compliment. No matter your intention, just keep comments about someone else’s physique or outfit to yourself. There are a million other ways to encourage someone, so choose one of those. A few examples: “Keep up the great pace” or “running strong!”
More people have spoken to me on my runs in the past two months than ever before. A family and their kids will cheer, an elderly couple will ask what I’m training for–overall people have been extremely encouraging. I think this is very positive.
While it’s important to respect people’s space and keep an appropriate distance, there’s nothing wrong with a smile, a nod, a hello or some encouragement. In fact, it makes me feel better when my fellow runners acknowledge me. Now more than ever, it’s important to be kind to one another, so I encourage runners to make an effort to be supportive and friendly to those they’re running near. If you follow these simple guidelines, I’m sure anyone you meet will be appreciative of your support.