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How to get over fear of running in public?
33

Tortoisetroubles · 25/04/2022 12:27

I really want to start running and it probably sounds stupid but I'm paralyzed with fear I'll be attacked as I jog along deserted country lanes at dawn/dusk. Then I think I should go in my lunch break on the pavements instead as that will be safer but then I picture people shouting and laughing as I wobble along. I'm obese and scared for my health if I don't get fit and lose weight but it's going to be (long) while before I look like a proper runner. I get as far as the door, all kitted up, and bottle out each time. I've tried looking for safety tips online but ended reading horror stories that make me feel worse. How do other women get over this? DH just laughs and says there aren't attackers in every bush, and I know part of it is irrational but then it only take one and I know it does happen, even if it's rare. Do I just need to ignore the fear and do it anyway? Do people care if you run in the day? I do see people running round here regularly and just think "I wish that was me!"

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Pixilicious1 · 25/04/2022 12:34

I Run in an area I feel safe and wear headphones and listen to music or a podcast. If someone shouts at you, that says more about them than you. I‘m not a natural runner or have a runner’s physique but once you’ve done it once the fear will lessen

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Ferntastical · 25/04/2022 12:39

I've been a tubby runner most my life, OP. I've run alone down country lanes and round urban streets. The very worse thing that happened to me was a guy trying to run alongside me down the street, claiming he wanted to be 'friends'. This was a dark, very early morning in London. I told him to F Off and he did.

Other than that, I have never encountered anyone shouting anything at me. But you could wear earphones for this and just focus on you/your music. Don't look at others and they might as well not be there. Like you, whenever I see someone running I tend to think 'good on them' and nothing more.

If you want to run country lanes then how about walking them first? Would you feel safer walking? You can then interject the walk with quick burst of running that will still help improve fitness and you slowly learn it's not so scary?

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Lazydazey · 25/04/2022 12:49

Have you thought about looking for a local running group ? Maybe on runtogether.co.uk either for a social run or a C25k ? I’m a slooow runner with a running club and lots of our C25k runners start off exactly the same but after a while don’t worry about it. Don’t disregard local running clubs either, as they may have groups of all types - look to see if they talk about social running.

On a practical level, look for somewhere you know, that is open or well lit. Not too isolated. Maybe main roads through a new housing estate. Plan your route in advance, take your phone and down load the Three words app (in case you need help) , you can also subscribe to Strava and share your location with one other user so you husband can see where you are. You could also try running early when no self respecting baddie would be awake ? Finally you can also see ‘heat maps’ of local running routes. If you want to listen to music get some bone conducting headphones so you can still hear what’s going on around you.

One other way of thinking about it is would you walk there ? If so then why not run , you are there and past any area so much quicker.

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ShinyHatStand · 25/04/2022 12:49

Would a running buddy help?
See if you can find a local couch to 5k group.

maybe build up confidence by walking the routes first?

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Lastqueenofscotland2 · 25/04/2022 13:41

Have you got a parkrun near you op? I feel they are a very safe space and you would be made very welcome as a walker to start with too

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Monkeytapper · 25/04/2022 13:44

Go to a parkrun, people of all shapes, sizes, ages and ability. You will get lost in the crowd and no one will notice you.

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Monkeytapper · 25/04/2022 13:45

Sorry!….I didn’t read thread properly ,thought you were worried about people looking at you!

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Monkeytapper · 25/04/2022 13:46

re read again, my first comment stands, go for it, I love parkruns

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HappyAsASandboy · 25/04/2022 13:51

Try parkrun to get used to running in view of others! I promise that there will be people of all shapes and sizes and colours or Lycra wobbling their way around the parkrun course - it is very comforting!

If you can find a parkrun in a country park or similar then you could run there to build your confidence? That way you'd know the route, how long it will take you to get back etc from doing the route at parkrun.

The worst thing for me is just setting out with no route. I don't want to get stuck out of breath with wobbly legs and too far from home, so I end up running round in small circles on the same roads and worrying that I look daft passing the same houses for the 2nd/3rd/4th time! So a country park and/or a parkrun route helps me set out confidently knowing I won't get stuck somewhere unable to get back to the house/car!

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Feeellostindirection · 25/04/2022 13:51

Tortoisetroubles · 25/04/2022 12:27

I really want to start running and it probably sounds stupid but I'm paralyzed with fear I'll be attacked as I jog along deserted country lanes at dawn/dusk. Then I think I should go in my lunch break on the pavements instead as that will be safer but then I picture people shouting and laughing as I wobble along. I'm obese and scared for my health if I don't get fit and lose weight but it's going to be (long) while before I look like a proper runner. I get as far as the door, all kitted up, and bottle out each time. I've tried looking for safety tips online but ended reading horror stories that make me feel worse. How do other women get over this? DH just laughs and says there aren't attackers in every bush, and I know part of it is irrational but then it only take one and I know it does happen, even if it's rare. Do I just need to ignore the fear and do it anyway? Do people care if you run in the day? I do see people running round here regularly and just think "I wish that was me!"

Op as an alternative you could walk and still lose weight. I started to walk an hour a day during the early lockdowns and cut back on junk and lost 21 pounds, that took my BMI down to the middle of what's considered heathy. Took about 3 months. Just start with a nice steady pace and it really does help. It's also better on your back and knees than runnings.

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ShinyHatStand · 25/04/2022 13:59

Another vote for park run.
There are always volunteers who walk at the back to keep newbies company and have a friendly chat.

And there is this think called jeffing where you intermix walking and running. So you could go out for a walk and then just add in a short run wherever you feel safe and confident. Easier to get out the house if you are just going for a walk and then add in the hard bits as you get used to it.

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xsquared · 25/04/2022 14:14

OP could you find out whether there are any local women's running groups or C25K groups on Facebook and join there?

Also, what do you mean about looking like a "proper runner"? Running clubs are not just for those who can run ultras or do 4 minute miles. Non elite ones will have runners of all shapes, sizes and abilities and will offer different types of runs to suit your pace. They are generally supportive of other runners.

If you know friends who run regularly, you could ask whether they are willing to run with you until you are confident enough to go on your own.

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HandShoe · 25/04/2022 14:19

You have a perfectly rational fear of something that is very unlikely to happen. Nothing wrong with that. Do you feel less anxious out walking? I'm not suggesting you give up on running, but rather that walking some routes that you'd like to run may help you feel more comfortable about the idea of running them in the future.

The ideal solution is a running buddy if you can find one amongst your friends/local groups. I generally feel quite safe when I'm out running alone whether on the pavement or out on trails but there are some routes that I do leave for when I'm with a friend as they feel a bit too remote for me when I'm alone.

With regards to people seeing you run if you go out during the day - If I saw you run I'd only be thinking positive things. And if I was running myself I'd nod/wave/say hello as the runners round here tend to.

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Fizbosshoes · 25/04/2022 14:23

I was also going to say try parkrun (if that's a suitable time for you) You can walk all of it or some of it and nobody will bat an eyelid. It's a good community to be part of.

Or if you're new to running, perhaps just start with a brisk walk and then run small segments in places you feel safe (or not busy, if you're worried about people watching)

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24petlegs · 25/04/2022 14:24

I would find a loop that takes a few minutes to run round and will pass your front door each time. Run when someone is home so they can look out for you every few minutes; that might help reassure you about being out on your own. 

Always take your phone and have your tracker on, tell people at home your route and then go for it. Walk a bit, run a bit, jog a bit...but stick to your loop as you will only be a few minutes from home if you feel unsafe.

Even run a minute away from home, turn around, run back, repeat...yes it gets a bit boring but if it helps you feel safer, go for it. Once you can in confidence, build to 1.5mins away from home, then 2 etc. 



Once you can walk 3 miles, go to Parkrun weekly and there you will meet others in similar positions who will know of local running clubs. Our local Parkrun has the speedy lot of 16 mins for 5km, through to the walkers taking over an hour...it's for everyone.

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Isonthecase · 25/04/2022 14:31

I'd say parkrun or a running group is your friend here. People at the back of parkrun are really slow and there's no judgement if you stop after a lap or two rather than doing the whole thing.

I've been running for years and I'm freaked out by going out at night too, it's different for most men. Nothing wrong with lunchtime runs, worst that'll happen is some rude comments from some monger with a personality problem. They're pretty rare though.

I read somewhere that even Paula Radcliffe got heckled whilst out jogging once, someone sarcastically called her Paula Radcliffe for going slow then saw her face...

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ResentfulLemon · 25/04/2022 14:37

I started running at a size 22 and dangerously obese. Started with C25K and because I was horrified at the idea of people looking at me and laughing I ran at 6am on the streets local to me. I used the plot a route website to help work out the distances on a variety of loop options (so I could escape home easily) and went from there.

At 6am the only people you'll encounter are other runners who will be nothing but encouraging and random dog walkers. Traffic is light/non-existent and at this time of year it's already perfectly light...plus it's cooler than trying to run in the sun.

It's always felt safe to me, by 6am all the rabble tend to have worn themselves out and are snoring away so it's just the boring safe types that are around.

It took me a while to pluck up the courage but I'd also definitely recommend joining a social running group. I'm lucky enough to have found a completely inclusive, non-competitive women's only group. No one is left behind to finish last, there's tonnes of encouragement, support and inspiration. Thanks to them I successfully completed C25K and I'm now training for a marathon!

I'm on the cusp of being only overweight and I've stopped the crazy habit of dressing head to toe in oversized black clothes to run in and now chose proper technical fabrics that don't make me overheat and have all the right reflective kit for when it's darker.

You can absolutely do this @Tortoisetroubles. Make sure you have a good fitting bra so that it doesn't rub and comfortable trainers, choose your route and get out your front door. You'll feel amazing when you start accomplishing your goals and the endorphins are pretty great too!

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cestlavielife · 25/04/2022 14:40

Do a self defense course

Do you go out alone to shop or to work?
It is no different

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Tortoisetroubles · 25/04/2022 15:04

Thanks for all these replies, they're really practical and reassuring. I feel like I could actually give it a go.

I had read about park run but saw that the average time my local one is completed in is 28 minutes so I thought I'd need to work up to doing it. Do people really walk it? I could try that.

It had actually never occurred to me to run round my house in a loop but that's a brilliant idea. I'd got this idea that I need to run a proper route without having a clue what that means. That way I can be close to home and feel safer whilst also nearby for when I go wobbly and can't go any further like someone pointed out-I'm sure that's the more likely scenario.

I will try headphones too. I think it will help me care less about other people. I'd avoided them as the police safety advice is not to wear them but I hadn't heard of the ones you can still hear through. I guess having it low or a podcast would probably work too.

I do walk a fair bit, mainly to commute, but no I don't feel safe walking on my own on the local country lanes. Strangely I'm fine if I'm with my kids so I think there is an irrational element to it.

I've downloaded the what3words app now too. That's a great idea thanks. I'm hopeless with directions so that will take care of the worry of how to describe where I am if I collapse in the middle of nowhere!

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Lastqueenofscotland2 · 25/04/2022 15:20

Plenty of people walk at parkrun :)
jf you aren’t sure volunteering as a marshal is a great way to introduce yourself, you’ll get a feel for the event, probably get a bit of confidence seeing the walkers/walk-joggers and meet the core team too.

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Hotcuppatea · 25/04/2022 15:25

Park run is ace. Everyone is so nice and it honestly doesn't matter what your time is.

Is there a running club near you? Joining a club is a great way to meet other runners, be social and get encouragement and tips. My club is very mixed ability with lots of super fit people and lots of middle aged, fairly slow joggers like me. Might be worth a look?

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Moonface123 · 25/04/2022 15:32

What about a treadmill ? You can walk run on it, then once you feel more confident run outdoors. I use my treadmill quite alot, esp in winter. Plenty of second hand ones on ebay, if you just wanted to try it .
Good luck.

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Plmoknijbuhv · 25/04/2022 15:36

I have just started running and I drive to a place about a mile from my house where I feel safe but it is also quiet, all be it there are houses so if a problem I could knock on a door. Could this be an option?

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Zazdar · 25/04/2022 15:43

I run partly on country lanes. My advice from a safety point of view, is to keep whatever you are listening to on headphones quiet, and always run on the right side of the road, facing the traffic.

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Lazydazey · 25/04/2022 18:34

I definitely think that looking for a local couch to 5 k group would be a great idea for you, or failing that just start with the app. This will help you pace yourself otherwise you’re likely to go off too fast, for too long and find it too hard. C25k will build things up gradually and running club c25k courses I’ve never met anyone who can’t do c25k if they stick with it , including those who are old / overweight etc etc.

The idea about a loop around your house is great, just go as slowly as you possibly can and pace yourself… if you’re not doing C25k then a lampost atva time is a good start.

if you look at park run you’ll see a results page and you can see the slowest times last week. However we frequently have people that walk and take over an hour - you won’t be last as there is always a tail walker and you’ll get support the whole way round as every knows how hard it is to start and get out there.

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