lone women running off road

I always try and run off road, it's one of the main things I like about running. Getting away from kids and traffic for an hour and running through the woods, trails or down the canal for an hour. Fresh air, peace and quiet. Also, I'm a bit self conscious about being overweight and running so slowly so prefer not to run on road where I'm subject to looks and beeps and abuse and people I know driving by! I also like running on my own, at my own pace, with my own thoughts.

 However, I have so many people telling me not to run alone, telling me horror stories of how 'a woman got raped last year on these trails' and 'a strange man grabbed someone i know once'. I run in a club and hardly any of the women there run off road cos they're all too scared to run alone.

I feel like I do my best to reduce risk, I never run in the dark, I always tell someone my route and what time I'm coming back. I run with only 1 headphone on and if I see a lone man/group of men  in front of me I turn my music off.

To be fair, most of the places I run have quite a lot of dog walkers/cyclists/horseriders but there are times when I don't see anyone for the whole hour.

So..my question is this?

Do I stop running alone to avoid the 'slight' risk of something happening OR do I carry on, it's my countryside too and aren't we letting the sickos win if all women are afraid to go out on there own?

Do other women feel like me?

Having said this...does any know if you can still get 'rape alarms'? I used to have one as a student but never seen them since.



  • I run on my own off road often.

    I also know other women who would not do so - and tell me I shouldn't.

    I ignore them.

    In ten years of running on my own in the woods I have never felt even slightly threatened, and enjoy the peace and quiet, the birdsong, the sound of the wind in the trees.

    To miss out on all that for some vague perceived threat would be a complete shame.

  • I don't run alone offroad as I feel nervous and am not proud of being such a big wuss- and I think that it would be a shame if you stopped doing something you enjoy because of someone else's perception of the threat.

    If you are really concerned or have to justify your actions to husband or whatever then you could prob talk to local police or look up crime stats. There is always the chance of running into the 1 in a million nutjob/axe murderer but the same could be said of walking down the high street at the wrong time.
  • I often run alone offroad and sometimes in the dark too but it's all a matter of confidence and being aware of your surroundings. Don't wear an MP3 so you can hear what's going on around you.

    Everyone seems to have a scare story but have you noticed it's nearly always a friend of a friend? You could live your life in fear, or you can live you life how you want it to be. For me that means taking reasonable precautions - no MP3, taking a phone and sometimes saying roughly where I'm going and how long I'll be -  but getting on with it

  • While you have to be aware of such things I don't let it bother me when I go running alone. I rarely see another soul but I'm lucky as I live out in t'sticks, so the people I come across are usually farmers / farm workers.

    If I'm running down a lane and there's a car or van parked up with a guy in it (prob just slacking off work) I usually make an effort to do a snot rocket or spit as I run by. Not at the car, I hasten to add!

    I figure by making myself as unattractive and 'blokey' as possible (which isn't difficult anyway) they'd be less interested. Unless someone's got a mucous fetish, that is... image 

  • bloke speaking here so I have a different view I guess

    my views are similar to Wilkie and I know my missus would agree

    there's always a small risk but you have to factor in what the likely real risk is.

    every time you jump in a car, catch a plane, go for a bike ride there is a danger of something happening - the same with a run

    in reality there is probably less chance of you being attacked whilst out running alone than being killed in a car accident

    my missus avoided a potential rape in a foreign city many years ago as she kept her calm and screamed very loudly whilst kicking the perp hard - he fled the scene. frightened the feck out of her but hasn't stopped her walking through big cities alone at night when needed.

    if you want to add precautions you can do so by taking martial arts classes, carrying an alarm/mace spray or similar, run with a big dog etc

    decide the risk factor - make your choice
  • I also love running off road - most of my winter races are on cross country or forest trails, so I try and train twice per week in this environment. I look forward to these runs more than the road / pavement runs.

     I think you're doing the right thing - you cant beat a good run in the fresh air. Echo what the above posters say - stay training as you are and carry on taking precautions.

     In 15 years of running off road I've never encountered a threat in the country yet - wish the same could be true about busy built up areas (dogs, chavs, cars, you name it!)

  • I'm a lone runner and I really enjoy it. I certainly wouldn't let a slight concern about something that is highly unlikely to happen interrupt that.

    H is more of a worry pot, but then he's a worry pot about everything! I make sure he knows roughly where I'm going, and when I expect to be back (I usually add a bit, just so he's not stood at the door when I puff back home!). I've also got a high vis vest and have just invested in a head torch. Not sure either will do much to ensure safety, but they probably make it less likely I'll get run over or fall into a pot hole and break something.

    I had a very bad experience while at university and I know I avoided something very much worse due to the intervention of a bus driver. I can honestly say that is the only time I have EVER been in fear of my life. And I got off with nothing more than a few bruises and a scare. It hasn't left me with a fear of buses or going out alone, although it has left some reservations about some things. What that experience did do is put all of those mild concerns into persepctive; they simply pale into insignificance. I wouldn't say I invite an incident, but then I don't believe that I was inviting one on that occasion either, I was doing something I'd done frequently before, I just got unlucky.

    Obviously it's something everyone has to decide for themselves and your own personal risk assessment will probably be slightly different from everyone else's. I wouldn't criticise anyone else who decided that running alone at night was not something they felt comfortable doing. I'd listen to the concerns, but would want something more than hearsay before I altered my patttern of behavoir significantly.

  • Ditto Wilkie!

  • The only advice I can offer is don't be too predictable on your runs/routes/times. Alter the times of your runs and routes frequently.

    Good luckimage  

  • SlugstaSlugsta ✭✭✭
    I'm not running at the moment but have always done a fair amount of my training off-road and alone. MS is very laid back and wouldn't have worried unless I was about 24 hours late, so I never had to contend with him fussing either. I feel that there is a greater risk of fallng and trying to get help (hence a phone in my pocket) than being subjected to any sort of attack.
  • I used to worry but the more I've done it the less i think about it.  Plus I took a self defence class which gives me some extra confidence.  My main worry is falling and since there's no reception where I run I'd be stuffed if something happened.

    Ideally I'd like to run with a dog but I've not yet found one I can borrow just for running. .....which reminds me I should make more of an effort to look again now that its getting darker.

  • I forgot to say that I also run on my own in the dark (not off road, thoug - I like to see where I'm going).

    Friends/family tell me this is dangerous too. 

    However, I have to walk home from the station after work in the dark in winter, which is NOT perceived as being so dangerous, for some reason!

    Why should running be more dangerous than walking home from work? image

  • SlugstaSlugsta ✭✭✭
    I have thought it was safer, Wilkie!
  • Hi I didn't go running off road for the last 4 years as I was worried...........more worried of falling over breaking a leg and not being able to find a signal on my mobile...........being attacked didn't really enter my head as I can't think of anything more off putting than an overweight middle age woman sweating like mad with a red face.................

    Ilast month i finally gave it ago and I love it now. long runs don't require an MP3 player as there is so much to watch and see and concentrate on. Its the way forward for me but I do tell someone roughly where I'm going and when............just incase I break that leg.............

    I worked out I'm more likely to be hit by a car running on the pavements than seriously hurt myself on the mountain........but its always a chance

  • TheraThera ✭✭✭
    I live in the country side and was thinking about lone running. I guess you always wonder if something can go wrong, but that can happen anytime, anywhere. I would like to do some offroad running, so I will have a rethink....
  • The only spot of advice that I'd add is 'know your route'...Squish runs alone round country lanes at night; there's little risk as no axe murderer would risk hypothermia on the off chance of a runner (or anyone else) going past; if anyone were to stop in a car, she knows the locations of the public footpaths, drives etc which branch off from the route; if someone were to chase her, they'd be led away from their car in the dark down paths familiar to her but not them...

    ...which puts the boot firmly on the other foot image

  • Yup, I agree with all of the above.   I like trail running and accept there is more risk of injury from falling etc than attack by a random nutter.  I run with music on and I take my phone.  I've startled more people i.e. dog walkers and kids walking to school than I've been startled.  I also tell myself not to get hysterical about the man urinating against a tree, or a man in combat trousers crossing the road, or the guy near a campsite who was barefoot in January or the bare chested guy in just shorts and running shoes who smiled and said hello as he ran past me on a hot July day.

    I agree with Life's To Short regarding risks when not running off road.  I agree with Wilkie regarding walking home after dark.  

    I won't run after dark on my own.  Did it once with my personal trainer.  I had a head torch and high viz and felt confident as I had a companion but it's simply harder to see the uneven ground, the dog mess etc.  On a psychological level other people are more sharply tuned to risk especially the sound of footsteps running i.e. they will perceive ME as the threat.  As I was once advised on self defence course, don't invite someone to fetch you a 'four penny one' because of the way YOU are acting.

  • Don't forget that the media (and Government) seem to regard their main role these days as scaring the populace into submission, so don't let them win by stopping you doing something you enjoy. Yes, it's terrible when people get attacked, but the number of stranger sexual assaults is nowhere near as high as people think it is. Plus most attackers want to be in control and will find an easy target. They'd rather go for someone walking or drunk than someone obviously fit and healthy and moving at speed. That's not to say you shouldn't take sensible precautions, but please don't let media-exaggerated fear stop you doing something you love.

  • That's so true Fish, about the media.  I also find that the friends of mine who are worried about me going out alone, don't speak from experience, because they're nervous of being out alone and don't ever do it.
  • TheraThera ✭✭✭

    ...that's it!....*goes to shop to buy new jacket for outdoor running*...

    ...I will not be scared!!!  image

  • If you get scared, just run faster!
  • if only i could run faster...lol!

    one of the only things that does bother me that is if anyone did attack me, i wouldn't be able to run away ...i only run at 10/11min mile as it is and am generally totally exhausted...on the other hand like other people have said...i'm not a very attractive prospect whilst out running and would also take them a good 40mins to break through my industrial running underwear!

     Thanks everyone...glad i'm not alone in my living life philosophy!

     I am strong, I am invicible, I am WOMAN.....dah, dah, dah, dah....

  • I run 99% of the time alone in a huge forest and am often as much as 10 miles away from home and safety. When I say "alone", I mean no other humans. I run always with one or both of our large shepherd dogs, both of whom are trained in defence work, they are friendly dogs, the younger one extremely so but I never tell people that, if some bloke asks if the dogs bite I always say yes. My club trainer is utterly convinced that if someone attacked me the dogs would automatically defend me as they have been taught to do. However, I feel perfectly safe out there in the woods anyway, more scared of running into a bunch of wild boar (which has happened a couple of times).

    Yes, there are some crazies out there and if you're unlucky you may meet one - but the chances are you won't. Vary your routes and times, make sure someone knows where you're going and for how long. DON'T wear headphones. Most of all - don't let fear stop you doing anything you want to do!

  • I will always run off-road by choice.   I do carry a phone (though can't guarantee to get a signal), but more importantly, I carry id.    I don't worry about being attacked (oops, now I'm wondering if that's tempting fate!!), but do have a slight concern that I might injure myself and not be able to get home.   Having said that, I'm not put off ...... just give me an OS map and I'm planning my next route .... if I've never run it before, it's even better.   

    Don't believe all the hype - just let common sense rule the day.   Dump the iPod, carry a phone and id and let yourself believe that 99.9% of the human race is made up of decent people.image


  • TheraThera ✭✭✭
    Adam Smith 27 wrote (see)
    If you get scared, just run faster!
    Yeh!!! *goes back to the shop to buy some superfast trainers*
  • I love running off-road, and personally have always felt safe doing so.

     I had a rather scary experience a couple of years ago whilst walking through a fairly busy, apparently safe, residential area in broad daylight - unfortunately there's no predicting where and when these things might happen. I totally agree that you can't live your life trying to avoid these situations - they're unlikely to actually come about and often completely random; it's just important to take precautions.

     Good advice on here about varying your route and not being too predictable in when and where you run. I personally never listen to music when running alone, always let someone know when I expect to arrive home and follow routes that are familiar to me.

     Life's far too short to let fear hold you back - enjoy!

  • I'm in Wilkie's camp - I often run off road on my own and I absolutely love it. I've never felt afraid at all. I have been cautious when i've heard of runners being attacked in nearby countryside, but 'cautious' involved me sticking to running round the local vineyard on more exposed routes. I hate road running, I only do it when absolutely necessary.

    Enjoy your running - I think everything you do in life has some element of calculated risk. Don't let urban (or should that be country?!) myths hold you back.

  • I'm a wimp........grew up in London, minor "nuisnance" level attacks when walking home from school as a teenager, and sadly I am VERY unhappy alone even in the day time. I just couldn't run alone at night- the mornings are OK, as no self -respecting potential attacker is going to get up at 6am (no , no ,I know that's rubbish, but it works for me).

    Unfortunately I'm not even really happy in the hills alone in broad daylight, and no amount of logical thinking will ever change that.

    It's a shame, as I know I'm missing out, but I just feel unhappy, and jumpy the whole time, it's not worth it for me.- So back to the tready in the winter then....................image

    Anyway, the point is, even if you find you just can't get used to it....your not alone in your worries, however illogical they may be.

  • I love running off-road, and often go alone.  I wouldn't go off-road after dark, and i don't listen to music either. I've been doing it for years.   I don't think there's any more risk than running in a city, in fact when I used to live in Manchester and go running in the streets I felt more at risk there than in the countryside.
  • I run off road alone but I take a couple of my dogs with me. Doesn't matter if they're docile - I know that but nobody else does.

    Re- Ultra Iron Wolf - I used to always say that my dogs didn't bite because I didn't want to scare innocent folks (they're off lead) until one day a new bloke was running on my normal route (I generally 'know' the folk on my route) and he was apparently terrified of my mutts. I told him not to worry that they're harmless, and carried on running. I passed him again later and he was having a pee, but not against a tree - just standing in the middle of the path with his wanger out. He saw me coming but didn't turn his back or make any effort to cover himself and then started flapping it about to 'dry it off'. Dirty f*cker.

    Now if people ask if my dogs bite I answer 'not until I give them the order'.

    BUT don't let that put anyone off - it's the only trouble I've had in 15 years! And I feel much safer than running through the city.
    My running buddy carries one of those alarm things when she runs alone - it's not a bad idea. Or a small spray can of whatever.

    Agree with switching the music off and carrying a phone and ID.

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