Tag Archives: safety when running

My First (and Last) Taste Of ‘Urban Running’.

This is probably a bit of a controversial post but it’s been playing on my mind so I thought I’d go for it:

I like to think that as a runner I’m respectful of everyone who uses the paths and roads, whether they are pedestrians, dog walkers, fellow runners, drivers or cyclists. I would never expect anyone to get out of my way. I would never shout at someone to jump out of my path. The only time I think it’s appropriate to do that is if you are at a track where there is an expected etiquette. Hear ‘TRACK’ shouted at the track and you either stay still or jump out of the way. Out on the roads though? To me that’s different. Non runners shouldn’t be expected to know about ‘runner’ etiquette and we are all sharing the tarmac.

About a month ago I had a taste of what was explained to me as ‘urban running’. Now I thought any running in any city or town is urban. I was born and brought up in London and I’ve lived in Cardiff so I’ve done a far share of running in cities. People hear me say Wales and think I’ve never run along a street before but apparently urban running isn’t as simple as that. I followed a group of other runners during a group activity and experienced ‘urban running’. I can’t honestly say I was impressed because it went something like this:

Shouting at pedestrians to get out of the way.

Running across the path of drivers sitting in traffic without a great deal of attention.

Jumping out into the road in front of a taxi driver who had clear right of way, endangering themselves and the driver.

I followed the runners but I didn’t whole heartedly join in because it baffled me, felt wrong and I couldn’t actually believe it was happening. Cardiff Parkrun was almost cancelled a couple of years ago because fellow park users were unhappy with the runners and running behaviour like this just gives all runners a bad name. It presents us as being selfish, obnoxious and a little bit arrogant.

I love running but I don’t go running so that I can behave like a bit of a twat. Running doesn’t mean I’m better than anyone else. As runner’s we are privileged to see the world in a slightly different way to everyone else on the roads and pavements, but it doesn’t give us  more rights. I don’t want to frighten people and I don’t want to cause drivers to almost have a heart attack from the fear of almost knocking over a pedestrian. If I thought that the way I was running was of concern to other people I think I’d be mortified.

So that was my one taste of ‘urban running’. I don’t know if it was misrepresented to me or that I didn’t understand it, but what happened that evening did not make me want to experience running like that again. It could be that living where I am in South Wales has spoilt me a bit for quiet trails and empty paths but I have run along busy roads in Cardiff and London and never felt the need to do any of the things I’ve described above. I think we do all run to be free in some way but, in this runner’s humble opinion, that shouldn’t negate our safety or that of other runners and non runners around us.


Idiots In Cars

When I was a teenager my coach used to give us training programmes for sessions we should do when we weren’t under his watchful eye at the track. This would usually involve a run of some kind which I’d undertake along the roads near my house. Back then my mum would insist on sending my brother out on his bike to ‘keep me company’. I would agree grudgingly but looking back it was her way of feeling her 14 year old daughter was safe.

Fast forward to today and I am nearing my 33rd birthday. I am a grown woman. I am confident and I am fairly sensible. If I go running then I stick to my familiar routes and tell my husband where I’m going. This however does not make me immune to what has become a regular occurrence during my runs. Young men, in groups, in cars, shouting abuse and obscenities at me while I’m running.

Last week it happened to me twice during one run, in broad daylight, and for some reason this time I couldn’t ignore it. I was angry and fed up. One of the groups had shouted so loudly at me that I had jumped in fright. The second car yelled something disgusting at me and I’m afraid I yelled something back about them being a Considerate Understanding Nice Type. I came back and I unleashed my bad temper on Twitter, which was probably a bit pointless and my swearing probably upset people but I was upset. Really upset.

I’ve been shouted at and catcalled during runs before and I haven’t let it bother me so why did it get to me this time? Probably because these boys (and that’s what they are) think it’s acceptable to shout at a lone woman out running, something that can make you feel vulnerable at times. Maybe it’s because I’m fed up with the attitudes to women and those who think it’s ok to treat women like this. And yes I am a feminist. Maybe I don’t think of it as flattering because I don’t run to satisfy the urges of pathetic idiots. Maybe I worry about the teenage girls I have seen out running who may be intimidated by these men and might stop training.

We shouldn’t ignore it. We shouldn’t put up with it. I shouldn’t have to find people to go running with so that I’m safe. They don’t shout at men who are running. Why should it be different for me? Why should I change my behaviour when it is they that are in the wrong?

For some reason a woman trying to better herself seems to bring out the insecurities of these clowns and they feel the need to take them out on female runners. Next time I’m shouted at, if I can, I will take the number plates of the cars transporting these idiots and I will be reporting them to the police. It is sexual harassment and it is unacceptable. Ladies if you are intimidated by men in cars while running then I suggest you should do the same.