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Street Harassment Made Me Quit Running

20/10/2014 17:27 BST | Updated 20/12/2014 10:59 GMT

Earlier this year I signed up to my first 10k and took up running. To begin with, I'll be honest with you, I sucked and I hated it.

The race day fear was the only thing keeping me going.

But as completely cliched as it sounds, what a difference a couple of weeks make. It wasn't long before I became one of those oddball people who actually enjoy running, eat boiled eggs for breakfast and post #fitspiration quotes on social media.

When 10k day came I outran my personal best and was compelled to keep up this new hobby.

Then the catcalling started.

The first time it happened I was running on a busy street and three men in a white van beeped their horn and yelled something about my 'tight ass' as I crossed their path.

I felt the heat rising to my face and a stab of anger in the pit of my stomach, but I thought 'whatever, they're just sad old men who don't know how to talk to women', I flipped them the bird and upped my pace.

The next time I went out a group of boys dressed in their school uniform wouldn't let me pass, claiming they just wanted me to stop and talk to them.

The following occasion a man on a bike kept pace with me. He didn't say anything, just looked me up and down before cycling off.

Incidents like this continued until I stopped wanting to go out running. I no longer felt good about myself - I felt angry, unsafe and ashamed.

I didn't want to feel obliged to scan the pavement for potential perverts, to take a different route because of what happened the last time I passed by the park, to be on constant alert for the men who might not take too kindly to me calling out their catcalling as I jogged by all sweaty and red-faced. I didn't want to be constantly conscious of my body and who is looking at it.

So I just stopped.

I don't want to be kept indoors for fear of catcalls - but deciding whether the benefits of running outweigh that shitty feeling you get when a total creep eyeballs the crap out of your almost non-existent chest is proving difficult.

As I write this, I am dressed in my running gear. Screw it, I'm going for a run. I'll just turn up my music real loud and avoid eye contact, because until something in society changes, this is how we cope.