I had a few ideas for this next entry. I’m worrying about Ironman 70.3 UK, for which training is wholeheartedly under way and for which I’m starting to worry about the practicalities, like actually getting to Exmoor. So there was that. And then there’s this ongoing rift in my head between country and city, where I can’t figure out where I’d like to live. So there was that. Weight loss is an issue at the moment. A book review, I have in mind. A movie review. Maybe a mess of the lot.
But then today, on my run, some jerk decided to harass me. He, much as I hate to admit it, actually scared me. In fact it didn’t just scare me; it made me really FUCKING ANGRY. So that’s the subject.
I’m used to people making comments when I run. Often, I run with my dog – she’s strong and big and makes me feel safe. People will comment on how lovely she is, from a safe distance. Sometimes people use her presence as an opening to flirt, again, from a respectful distance. Some people still make horrible comments about runners, but 99% of the time I don’t even notice, or pay any attention, because I have earphones in and even if there’s no music actually playing, I can pretend I didn’t hear a damn thing. And they’re just words. They’re aways a way from me. My dog makes sure of that.Today I realised just how much I take her creep-repelling abilities for granted.
Really, when I run, I just want to be left alone – like pretty much everyone I know who runs, not just women. But it seems to be the women who get harassed. Really harassed. Not just the odd comment, but out-right grabbed as they jog past, as happened to another blogger this week. I’m not sure what it is. Does the fact that a woman is already running spark some bizarre hunting instinct in the utter wankers of the world?
Today, I wasn’t running when he’d approached me. I’d just slowed to a walk to catch my breath (because I’m not that good at running, despite my best efforts). I was on the second half of the run, having dropped the dog back home after four miles. It meant I was also already quite tired. And here’s how it went.
Him: Excuse me, do you have the time?
Me: Oh, yeah, let me look. (Checks watch.)
Him: Oh, you speak English. I thought you were Polish or Spanish or something.
Me: (Alarm bells going off, because why did he speak to me if he didn’t think I could speak English?) It’s about five to two.
Him: Right. So do you have foreign heritage?
At this point, because I barely stopped, I’ve walked past him and he’s following me down the street, far, far too close to me.
Me: No. I have to go now.
I start jogging. He walks faster.
Him: You look like you do.
I don’t say anything, just keep going.
Him: Hey! Hey! And then spits at me.
I ran the fastest mile of the entire run after that. I looked at the graph of my progress later. You can clearly see where I sprinted off, then slowed and looked back to see if he was gone, then took off again – because when I looked back he was glaring down the street at me. I thought about calling the police, but instead I carried on with my run because a very stubborn part of me thought ‘Fuck you, you’re not ruining my training today.’ And besides, what did he actually do other than set off all my alarm bells and make me feel a touch less safe on the street? I changed my route home, which would have taken me back past that spot. I daydreamed about carrying on my krav maga lessons of last year so that I could kick the shit out of the next creep that came along (I get violent when riled). Then remembered that lesson one of krav maga is to avoid interaction where at all possible, so running away would have been option one anyway. Then figured that if ever there was a push to make me do my speedwork, that was it.
Anyway, to conclude: you want to make a comment, any comment to someone who’s exercising? Just don’t bother. Save supportive things for race day. If you have any jokes or wisecracks, or observations about weight, just move on. And if you’re the kind of dick who gets off on scaring women in the street, then I hope the next woman you approach is a woman with no patience, a mean right hook and a testicle-popping kick. I really do.