Running is a fantastic way to improve physical fitness, boost mental well-being, and feel empowered. However, women often face unique challenges when it comes to running, including physiological differences, safety concerns, and time constraints. Let’s discuss some of the most common running challenges for women and provide practical tips on how to overcome them.
Staying Safe While Running
Recent research shows that 92% of women don’t feel safe when running alone. Let that sink in for a moment – that’s nearly all women.
The survey revealed alarming statistics, shedding light on the challenges faced by women while running:
- Higher Fear of Physical Attacks Among Women: The research disclosed that 51% of women, in contrast to 28% of men, express a genuine fear of being physically attacked.
- Incidence of Physical or Verbal Harassment: A staggering 38% of women reported experiencing physical or verbal harassment while running.
- Unwanted Attention and Sexual Harassment: Disturbingly, over half of the women surveyed experienced harassment and reported receiving unwanted attention, sexist comments, or unwanted sexual advances. (Myself included)
In light of these findings, it becomes even more crucial for female runners to prioritise safety. It is essential to raise awareness about these issues and work collectively towards creating a safer and more inclusive environment for all runners.
Here are practical tips to help you feel safe during your runs:
- Choose the Right Time and Place: Stick to well-lit, populated routes, and schedule your runs during daylight hours when visibility is optimal. Avoid poorly lit or secluded areas that may pose a higher risk.
- Inform Someone of Your Route: Whether you’re running solo or with a group, always inform a trusted friend, family member, or housemate of your planned route and your estimated return time. This simple step ensures that someone is aware of your whereabouts.
- Use Personal Safety Devices: Carry a personal safety alarm or a smartphone with GPS tracking capabilities. Utilise apps like WhatsApp to share your live location with trusted contacts. These measures add an extra layer of security and provide a quick way to alert others in case of an emergency.
- Run with Others: Whenever possible, run with a friend or consider joining a local running group. There’s strength in numbers, and running in a group not only enhances safety but also adds a social and enjoyable aspect to your runs. Potential threats are less likely to target a group of runners.
- Stay Aware and Trust Your Instincts: While it’s essential to enjoy your run, maintaining situational awareness is equally vital. Be conscious of your surroundings, and if something feels off or raises concerns, trust your instincts. Take necessary precautions and alter your route if needed. Your safety should always be a top priority.
Remember, prioritising your safety is not only sensible but empowering. For more tips about staying safe in the dark click here. Stay vigilant, stay safe, and continue to enjoy your runs with confidence.
Navigating Your Menstrual Cycle and Running
Our hormones can be as unpredictable as that friend who shows up unannounced. The hormonal fluctuations during the menstrual cycle can significantly impact a woman’s running performance and overall comfort. Here are some tips to help you conquer this monthly adventure:
- Track your menstrual cycle: Use apps like Clue to keep tabs on your cycle, so you’re prepared for hormonal changes. Being prepared is half the battle.
- Embrace your energy waves: Think of your menstrual cycle as your personal energy map. On high-energy days, plan challenging workouts or longer runs. On low-energy days, focus on recovery, yoga, or lighter runs. It’s about working with your body, not against it.
- Hydration and nutrition: Stay well-hydrated by sipping water throughout the day, especially if you’re dealing with bloating. Opt for iron-rich foods like spinach and lean proteins to combat fatigue. Don’t forget mood-boosting complex carbs – they’re your friends during this time.
- Listen to your body: Pay attention to what your body is telling you. If a high-intensity workout doesn’t feel right, it’s okay to take it easy. The goal is to maintain your running routine while honouring your body’s signals. Sometimes, a gentle jog can do wonders for your mood and comfort.
Remember that every woman has a different experience, so it could take some time to determine what is most effective for you. No matter where you are in your cycle, be kind to yourself, and keep your running shoes at the ready. Your body is incredible, and running can be a fantastic way to celebrate it every day of the month!
Managing Time for Running
Many women juggle multiple responsibilities, making it challenging to find time for regular running. A few things can help:
- Strategic scheduling: Treat your runs as non-negotiable appointments with yourself. Schedule them in the morning, during lunch breaks, or in the evening to make running an integral part of your routine.
- Master time management: Use time management techniques to maximise productivity. Free up pockets of time for quick workouts or longer runs without feeling overwhelmed.
- Embrace high-intensity workouts: Embrace short, high-intensity workouts as a time-efficient solution to reap the benefits of longer runs.
- Realistic goals: Set achievable running goals that align with your current lifestyle. Be realistic about the time you can dedicate to running each week.
Running and Motherhood
Balancing motherhood and running can be demanding, but it’s entirely possible:
- Invest in a suitable pushchair: Choose a sturdy, comfortable pushchair that suits your running style and your child’s needs. Running with your baby or toddler not only keeps you active but also creates quality bonding time.
- Build a Support Network: Enlist the help of a partner or family member for childcare support. Involve family or friends in your running journey for childcare support if needed.
- Join parent-child running events: Consider participating in parent-child running events or mum-focused running groups. They understand your unique challenges and can provide valuable advice and support.
Body Image and Running
Embrace the beauty of diversity and body positivity in the world of running. At any race, you’ll find women running who are all shapes and sizes confidently taking on the challenge, and that’s exactly how it should be. Here’s how to celebrate your body and overcome the challenge of unrealistic body image standards:
- Prioritise health benefits: Focus on the health benefits of running, including improved cardiovascular health, physical endurance, stress reduction, and enhanced mental well-being. Remember that running is a journey that makes you feel amazing and positively impacts your overall health, going far beyond mere appearances.
- Build a supportive running community: Surround yourself with a vibrant and inclusive running community that celebrates diversity and places the joy of running above all else. In these groups, you’ll find acceptance and appreciation for who you are, empowering you to be your authentic self.
- Set performance-based goals: Shift your focus from aesthetic goals to performance-based objectives. Concentrate on achievements like improving your pace, completing specific distances, or conquering challenging trails. Your running journey is about growth, strength, and personal triumphs, not about conforming to unrealistic body ideals.
Choosing the Right Sports Bra
Finding the right sports bra is crucial for female runners -here are my tips:
- Finding your correct size: Start with a professional bra fitting, available at lingerie or specialty running stores. They consider factors like band size, cup size, and breast shape to ensure optimal support and minimise bounce during runs.
- Invest in quality: Opt for high-quality sports bras designed for running and high-impact activities. Look for features like wide, adjustable straps, secure underbands, moisture-wicking fabric, and encapsulation or compression styles. Although they may be pricier, the comfort and protection they offer are well worth it.
- Replace regularly: Like running shoes, sports bras have a lifespan. Consider replacing them every 6-12 months or when you notice signs of wear, such as stretched straps, a loose underband, or reduced support.
Remember, every woman’s body is unique, so some experimentation may be needed to find the perfect sports bra that suits your body and running style. But once you do, you’ll be more comfortable during your runs.