Why run? Why run alone? Why run together?
Running is amazing to me because it is so easy, so universal. I don’t mean easy in the sense of I can just blast out a marathon. I can barely make it up a hill sometimes…
But it’s easy because there is nothing you need. No special equipment, no specific area, just you and your feet. (Maybe some shoes – take it from me, never try and run barefoot on a treadmill. That stuff burns).
I started running when I was about 18. I can’t remember if it was excessive energy or the looming threat of a second chin that got me going. I’d put on some terrible pop punk and plod around the local estates. It wasn’t inspiring stuff, but it got me started.
And I’ve never really stopped. 9 years later and I still adore it. I take my trainers with me on every trip, regardless of appalling packing limitations. I’m fairly certain I only survived university by being sent out on running by concerned flatmates who knew that a blast around the city at night would do more good than all the caffeine I was pouring down my throat. Runners High my friends; my drug of choice…
(Please note here; the city at night. I lived in Nottingham – perceived as one of the most crime-ridden cities in England. I spent three years jogging around the city centre, albeit the most lit areas, and it is one of my favourite ways to remember the city).
Running is also an amazing way to discover a place.
If you’re confident in your location when you’re travelling then you can just go off on a bit of a bumble. It means that;
- You’ll find some places you might never have seen.
- You’ll start to learn your way around.
- If you get lost, you’ll really up your distance…
I loved running in Australia for this – crazy tiny hidden roads with cute little coffee shops, long stretches of open beach with no-one else for miles and my complete lack of direction meaning that I got a LOT of exploring done.
Since moving back to England, I have spent many a happy evening sprinting down to the beach and catching the sunset across the sea, or (at a slightly slower pace) heading up into the hills and seeing how quiet the world is first thing in the morning. It’s a great way to ease out my body after a day huddled staring at a screen.
Wherever you are, running can get you out and gives you a chance to clear the cobwebs away. It’s one of the most flexible and economically viable (*cough* cheap) activities you can do!
I’ve almost always run solo; the appeal of running for me has often been the joy of hearing nothing but my own feet on the pavement.
Should you run alone?
According to England Athletics, a third of women have received some form of harassment whilst running.
I hate that this has become a thing that I am so often told as I mention that I like to run alone. I hate the thought that anyone might be put off from running because of this. Yes, it does happen. Yes, I have previously chased a van full of men down the road to berate them for being absolute tosspots.
But RUNNING IS ABOUT SO MUCH MORE THAN THE IDIOTS WHO HONK. It’s that HELL YEAH feeling you get when you get that little bit further, that little bit faster. It’s the glorious sunrise you get to watch because you dragged your butt out of bed whilst everyone was asleep. And sometimes it’s just the fact that you can ignore everyone in the world for an hour straight because you, my friend, are ON A RUN.
I wonder if perhaps what England Athletics are trying to say is ‘GROUPS ARE GREAT AND SAFER’. That can be true, particularly as the winter nights draw in. But I wish they’d say that instead of ‘RUNNING ALONE IS SCARY’. If this gets women to start running by joining groups then amazing. I have run with some wonderful people in my time and it can be a wonderful feeling to be a part of a pack. But equally, if you are reading this and thinking ‘oh god, I don’t want to be shouted at’ then please PLEASE don’t let this report stop you from lacing up your shoes. No-one should stop you from getting to the top of that hill; THAT HILL IS YOUR HILL (even if you have to crawl up it on your hands and knees).I like to think that everything that running can bring you kicks any kind of harassment worries back where they belong.
But if you prefer to crawl with others: Run Together.
Basically, just run.