Running — especially alone, as a woman — can come with some mental baggage. When is the safest time to run? Should I run alone? Where should I run?

We spoke with women who run about what they love about it and the kind of choices they make to help themselves feel safer when running.

Bobbi Joyce

39-year-old Bobbi Joyce lives on a cattle property near the rural town of Theodore, in Queensland and tries to run about three times a week.

“Most of my running is on roads around the property or fire breaks,” she says.

“If you go first thing in the morning, you can attack the day.”

Bobbi Joyce says running can be an escape where you’re doing something just for yourself.(Supplied: Bobbi Joyce )

She began running regularly almost 12 years ago after the birth of her first son when she decided to “have a go” at a 5-kilometre fun run.

Bobbi says the appeal of running was she could do it on her own without having to drive in and out of town, it was inexpensive and an opportunity to listen to podcast, audiobook or music.

“I used to run across the paddocks with [a pram] and it was a bit of an escape more than anything,” she says.

“You really see how much fitness you’ve gained from having to push a pram across the black soil road or a rocky road. Then when you get to go by yourself, you’re like ‘oh wow’.

“It’s nice to have that escape where it feels like you’re doing something for yourself.”

But, she says running alone can make you “feel a little bit vulnerable”, which is why she doesn’t do it along the highway that sits just beyond her front gate.

She’s ok with snakes, pigs and wild dogs which she has encountered on her runs.

“Most of the time if you spot something like that, it gets as big a fright as you do,” she says.

Eliza Boyd

Eliza Boyd, 31, “fell in love” with running after a run organised during her final year of high school.

Eliza Boyd says she often time the start of her runs according to the sunrise. (Supplied: Eliza Boyd)

It wasn’t until 2019 that she  committed to doing it “really consistently”, and then last year she began “doing races and that’s when it started to get more serious”.

Like a lot of others around the world, she also began documenting her progress on TikTok.

Eliza has since also started a run club in Geelong, Wadawurrung country, which she says is “growing ridiculously”.

Safety is something Eliza says she thinks about “all the time”.

“You remember, you’ve got to look out for each other,” Eliza says.

She says one of the benefits of joining a run club is that she now has friends to ask when she wants to run earlier in the morning.

Ms Boyd also says running comes with direct results and “you can’t really cheat your way there”.

“I think it really brings out your mental strength and then you start applying it to other areas of your life. Which is what I really love.”

Hannah Frost

Hannah Frost says she “initially had a love hate relationship with running.”

“I think everyone does when they start out,” she adds.

The 32-year-old South Australian says running “proves you’re so much more capable of doing things than you think you are.”

Last year she signed up for a half marathon, went on to run the Melbourne marathon in October and joined a running club in Adelaide where she says she’s found a supportive running community and a challenge she loves.

Hannah Frost says she loves that her week is set out when she’s training for a marathon. (Supplied: Hannah Frost)

“It’s probably the best feeling,” Hannah says.

But, it can be difficult and “frustrating” trying to train in the daylight between work and sleep.

“You’re taught from such a young age ‘don’t go out when it’s dark alone as a woman’, and if you’re running on a path that is dark you are always looking around you.”

Hannah says a lot of her choices are almost unconscious.

“I always carry my phone on a run, and I always tell someone where I’m going and how long I’m going to be.”

Shoshana Ryan

Shoshana Ryan realised running was for her after coming third in a primary school cross country race.

“I got super excited that I could achieve something because I wasn’t the most coordinated,” she says.

Shoshana Ryan says it’s hard to fit runs in during daylight when marathon training. (Supplied: Shoshana Ryan)

The 22-year-old lives on the New South Wales north coast, traditionally owned by the Bundjalung people, where she runs mostly along the beach or on paths through town.

She says it giver her confidence, and sets her up for the day, knowing you’ve “done something amazing before work”.

But, she adds “as a woman you always think about [safety]” and it regularly impacts where, but mostly when she runs.

“We did an 8 pm run and I just had to convince my husband to come with me because there’s no chance that I’ll be running alone at night,” she says.

Shoshana also says she’s “used to having feelings of being unsafe at certain times during running, because it feels like it just comes with being a woman.”

Sophie Thomas

Sophie Thomas, from Naarm/Melbourne, runs with ‘Achilles Melbourne’, a running club for people living with disability she joined five years ago.

In her mid-20s Sophie — who has usher syndrome — began losing her vision.

Now 47, she is legally blind, and also wears hearing aids.

Sophie Thomas says ‘there is no one size fits all for running’. (Supplied: Sophie Thomas)

She says she does miss running by herself.

But “on the flip side” she likes the social and safety aspect that she feels comes along with the running club.

“One of the many benefits of having Achilles and having a sighted guide with me is that I never have to run by myself,” she says.

“If I were to try to run by myself, I wouldn’t be able to see people coming towards me.”

Sophie says she began running years ago when she was planning getting married, saying “nothing motivates you more than a wedding dress”.

After a good run, she says, “you feel like you can leap tall buildings.”

Julie Song

Julie Song says she started running just before COVID lockdowns began in Sydney.

Julie Song says the appeal of running is “you can literally just chuck on a pair of shoes”. (Supplied: Julie Song)

“I was in one of those [local government areas] where you were only allowed to exercise for one hour, and I thought I’d just maximise the amount of exercise I could do by running instead of walking,” she says.

But now the 28-year-old participates in parkrun almost every Saturday and says while you’re only competing against yourself when you’re running, it can be social sport.

Julie says on early morning runs, she goes where there are street lights, and takes a torch in winter.

She also says running through parks or sports grounds where there’s training on later at night is a good way to a find lit up space.

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