The internet is a great resource to learn about running. I’ve spent a lot of time on running forums, reading tips and tricks to run faster, and they’ve helped me to consistently set new personal bests.
Unfortunately, the mixed in with all the good advice are plenty of bad suggestions.
Most bad advice online is relatively innocuous — myths and “bro science” that won’t actually improve your running but won’t lead to much harm either.
Recently though, I saw a post on Reddit’s running forum with the worst running advice I’ve ever read.
In a thread about how to run faster on race days, a user said that he motivates himself by ogling the women in front of him. He’d search for an attractive runner, then match pace as he stared at their ass.
It should go without saying how gross and creepy this advice is, but I’ll say it anyway: Incredibly gross and creepy.
Other Reddit users reacted to the post with disgust, but a few days later I saw very similar (although less over-the-top) advice in another thread.
This kind of behavior has no place in the running community. It’s harmful to female runners and harmful to the community as a whole.
All Runners Deserve to Feel Safe
Running can be a dangerous hobby. As runners, we’re already worrying about injuries, wildlife, and vehicle traffic. The last thing needed is to have to start worrying about other runners as well.
Unfortunately, for female runners, sexual harassment is incredibly common.
In 2017, Runner’s World surveyed runners and found that 30% of women have been followed on runs. Men had it better at 7%, although anything above 0% is higher than I’d like to see. (Source.)
Nobody should have to be in fear of getting followed or otherwise harassed during their runs. This should fall under basic human decency.
It is especially upsetting to me that a fellow runner would find it acceptable to ogle the women in front of him.
“Revealing” Clothing is Not an Excuse to Stare
The clothing that someone is wearing is not an invitation to stare at them.
This isn’t some controversial take — it’s a basic rule of human interaction that every adult should know.
For some reason, some people seem to forget this when it comes to runners.
In the summer months especially, runners end up wearing “revealing” clothing. Men and women alike can end up feeling exposed as we go out in public in much less than we would usually wear.
The point of this clothing is to be comfortable. To avoid getting weighted down in sweaty cloth or making our bodies overheat. The point of the clothing is definitely not to attract attention.
I already feel awkward enough wearing my small shorts, and the last thing I would need is to have someone staring at me.
Ogling Runners Is Not Harmless
Perhaps some runners think that ogling is a “victimless crime.”
If you’re behind the other runner, they’ll never even know that you’re staring, right?
This is absolutely not true.
First of all, it’s likely that the runner will notice as they turn a corner or glance back. Just because they don’t confront you, doesn’t mean they haven’t realized what you’re doing.
Secondly, even if the runner that you’re staring at doesn’t notice, other runners around you will. The runner being ogled might never realize that someone was creepily following them, but the other runners will, and it will make them nervous as well.
Ogling runners is a form of harassment, regardless of intentions. The end result is that fewer people will feel safe and comfortable running, and the community as a whole will suffer for it.
Runners deserve to feel safe while they run, and as fellow runners, we should be doing everything in our power to encourage that.