The COVID Diaries: Running in the time of coronavirus (part 3)

The COVID Diaries blog header

Welcome to the third instalment in our new blog series, catching up with runners as we navigate this weird time in the UK.

Lockdown restrictions have been relaxed a little in England now, with different rules in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In England, runners can meet with up to 5 other people for a socially distanced run. However, in no part of the UK is there scope to restart races, parkruns or larger group/club training sessions. So for most runners, we still have a long way to go until we’re close to ‘business as usual’.

In this blog, we catch up with another female runner and hear her lockdown thoughts. Sadly not all our running experiences are positive; unwanted attention can lead to a difficult and uncomfortable experience, particularly for solo female runners. One study in 2017 found that a third of women who run have experienced some form of harassment while running alone. That is not okay. Our writer here shares her personal, recent experiences and how they have made her feel.

Kasia Lubowiecka

Kasia running

Running in lockdown has been… different.

Some people have found it hard with all the awesome events being cancelled or postponed, but for others it’s been a fantastic opportunity to start running for the first time.

For me, it’s been a mixture. Being a marathon and ultra addict, I’ve missed the events, the scenery, the people and the general running event vibes. However, sometimes you just have to accept the current situation and try to make the most of it.

I admire all the people who complete marathons and ultras in their garden or on a treadmill, but I know one thing: that kind of running definitely isn’t for me.

I decided to embrace short distance running for a bit (why not, eh?) and found myself a nice little 5K loop around the estate I live on.

The End.

Great story!

Okay, that’s not it, there’s more. I’ve been doing my 5K a few times a week. It’s been fun and hard and rewarding, all at the same time. I usually start my day with running, and then I have a sense of accomplishment to marvel upon for the rest of the day.

It’s been good, apart from… some men.

I run in a skort and a tank top, that’s my running outfit. That’s what I feel most comfortable in.

And then, there are the men. Driving to work at 6:30am, walking a dog, going to the bakery… staring. Staring at me in my skort – you know the look I mean.

Don’t get me wrong, this is not a self-indulgent post, saying how much attention I get. Quite the opposite. I saw a guy giving a sleazy look to another running woman when I was driving home the other day, and it made me feel sick. This happens to every woman, everywhere, and not just while running. I’m just one of them, and today’s looks and comments were the straw that broke my back.

I couldn’t help but feel angry. Angry with myself for the fact that I let it get to me. I felt embarrassed, objectified, afraid and dirty. I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

Did I provoke you? Was it my running skort? Do you think your looks are so subtle that we don’t even notice them? Can’t I take a compliment?

It’s not up to me to call on karma and you probably know this anyway, but while you do it to me, there’s somebody else doing it to your mother, sister, girlfriend, niece… Do you think about it for a split second? Is it a habit? A condition you can’t help? How would you feel if you witnessed it done to someone you love or care about? Would you play it down? ‘It’s just a look’, ‘It should make you feel better about yourself’, ‘It’s a compliment, really’. Or would you all of a sudden switch from a ‘lad-mode’ to a ‘protector-mode’?

Can you answer me honestly? Or is it still my fault? Am I too sensitive?

All of this, made my run ‘not fun’ today, and I will think about it the next time I venture out.

During the pandemic I often run alone and today I felt lonely on so many levels. But am I alone in this? How do you feel, my women friends?

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