For me, there is nothing more empowering than starting the day with a run. Sure, I’ve been catcalled – sadly, it comes with the territory as a female runner – but nothing will stop me pulling on my trainers, filling my lungs with fresh air and pounding the pavement, alone.
But Avon and Somerset Police want women like me to amend our behaviour. Its new #JogOn campaign recommends we start running in groups to avoid sexual harassment.
As a firm believer that it should be perpetrators who change their behaviour, I have no intention of giving up my hobby and neither do others who run alone.
Here eight women share why they love solo running.
“It allows my mind to switch off.”
Danielle Pegg Mowbray, 38, from Newcastle Upon Tyne, hated running at school and felt her PE teacher publicly shamed her for being slow. But she’s discovered solo running as an adult and runs two or three times each week.
“I like to put in my headphones, blast some music and get going. After about 10 minutes the endorphins start to kick in and my mind either starts to switch off or process things. Sometimes I might even have a little cry.
“I like to feel the wind in my face and zone out a bit to allow my brain and body to do what they want/need to do. Having someone else there wouldn’t allow for that.”
“It inspires new ideas.”
Corienne Kilgannon, 40, from Oxfordshire, loves to run alone and off the beaten track where there are no roads to navigate.
“I can become completely immersed in my own thoughts and think about my family, my business. I don’t even listen to music which allows me to come up with all sorts of great (and not so great) ideas! When I run, it sets me up for the whole day.”
“It’s a game-changer for anxiety.”
Laura Jones, 27, from South Wales, says running alone has improved her mental health.
“I run alone because I use the time to do all my thinking and planning without interruptions. Running has been a game changer for my anxiety, if ever I feel stressed or worried I take myself off for a run and by the time I get back everything feels less overwhelming.”
“It’s the only time I get alone.”
Running gives Bess Browning, 27, from Kent, some much-needed me-time.
“My running time – two or three times a week for up to an hour – is the only time I am ever properly alone. I work in an office, live with my partner and have a hectic social life, so it’s my only time away from people, away from social media and the distractions of life. It gives me time to think and reflect, and its de-stressing benefits are immeasurable.”
“It’s changed my life.”
Emily Lavinia, 28, from London, says: “it sounds dramatic but running really has changed my life.
“I struggle with anxiety and after a bad break up I had a lot of pent-up negative energy. One morning I decided to put on my trainers and just sprint. I kept running until I couldn’t physically go on. It felt incredible. Since that day I’ve been running solo as much as I can.
“It’s had a dramatic impact on my mental health, my skin looks better and I feel powerful and in control of my body when I run. It’s funny because I never really understood why people do it, but I get it now. It’s that feeling of freedom, testing your limits and being totally alone with yourself.”
“It’s a personal challenge.”
Jenni Lai, 25, from London, loves the independence that solo running brings.
“When I run alone, I feel free to make my own decisions such as how far or fast I’d like to run – there’s no pressure from anyone else.
“For me, working out is a personal challenge rather than exercising to please someone else. I love to run with my headphones, so for me it’s time out from a busy schedule where I can work out but enjoy a new album I’ve been itching to listen to.”
“It feels like an achievement.”
Toni White, 32, from Exeter, says running alone allows her to unwind.
“It’s my time to be mindful. To get perspective on life. To run off any anxious energy I may be holding. To feel like I’m achieving something even when life feels tough.”
“It gives me freedom. ”
Hatti Linnell, 25, from London, loves running with friends, but says nothing beats going solo.
“Running alone gives another level of freedom, no pressure to go faster or slower, and to go as far (or not) as you want to.
“My favourite time to run is in the morning when it feels like the world is asleep, it makes me feel very calm and gives me and the ability to process my thoughts with clarity without the need to maintain conversation with anyone else. As an extrovert I find these moments of peaceful reflection very refreshing.”
[Inspiration: I Got Off The Sofa And Ran One Mile Each Day Of 2018]