• Mary Kathleen Toner

Women Deserve to Run Without Fear

Runners Alliance: Safer Together

If you subscribe to our emails you know that we send out a newsletter each week called Thursday’s 3. It contains a little something for the mind, the body, and the soul. For the Mind category, I do my best to share something interesting I’ve read that pertains to health & wellness- something new to the field or an article that might leave you thinking. As I was searching my usual haunts for this week’s T3 Mind piece, I ran across (no pun intended) this piece on runnersworld.com that immediately grabbed my attention.


Women Deserve To Run Without Fear


I knew exactly what I’d find in this article before I even clicked on it.. Tales of women out for a run ending in harassment. At best, this type of situation leads to the woman feeling distracted and annoyed. At worst, she doesn’t make it home.


This isn’t an exaggeration - there is no shortage of stories of women being murdered while simply out for a run. Here are the names of those shared in this article: Mollie Tibbetts, Vanessa Marcotte, Karina Vetrano, Alexandra Brueger, Wendy Karina Martinez.


Though I am not a runner myself, I have had my own share of experiences similar to the ones shared in the Runners World piece. It frustrates me to no end that we (women) are taught from a young age that to go out into the world and do even mundane things such as running errands, exercising, or walking the dog, we must be prepared to fight. We are given countless checklists in preparation to simply park our car in the mall’s parking deck.

1. Park near a light source.

2. Park near the entrance.

3. Park near a security camera.

4. Have pepper spray or a taser.

5. Make sure someone knows where you are.

6. Have your keys out and ready to unlock your car

7. But don’t unlock all the doors, because then someone can get in from the opposite side

8. But YOU should get in from the passenger side if a sketchy van is parked on your driver’s side.

9. Check the back to make sure no one is hiding in your car already.

10. Lock the doors as soon as you get in.

11. Leave immediately.


Yes, these tips are extremely useful, but it’s devastating how necessary they are. Female runners are given similar rules to follow, rules that often drastically take away from the benefits of her run. The need for constant vigilance often ruins the freeing physical and mental release a run should provide. Many women have to change their routes and stay near their home, often missing the quiet nature trails they enjoyed before. The feel of the Mace can swinging against her hip- a constant, rhythmic reminder that she can’t let her guard down. She better wrap up this “me time” before it gets dark.


So, aside from complaining, what's the point of this blog, you ask? Well, Runners World has partnered with Women’s Health to create the Runners Alliance: Safer Together. It’s sort of a runners toolkit - tips to keep you safe and ways that we all (men and women) can make running safe for everyone. Again, I cannot stress enough how frustrating it is to even need these resources, but I thought it necessary to pass along. The more awareness we bring, the more we are able to educate men how they can help, the sooner we won't need to take fear on our runs.

No matter your age, your sex, your race, how you identify, or even if you’re not a runner - everyone should check it out. We ALL deserve to run without fear and together, we can make running what it’s supposed to be - and whatever the runner needs it to be.


Thanks for reading!

Mary Kathleen


Mary Kathleen is Functionize’s Social Media Manager and in-house Wordsmith.

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