Women in Running with Jess Mena
What run communities are you involved in?
I am involved with my own running club, Tempo Training Run Club, which I founded 1 year ago to combat harassment and assault against women (who run). It’s evolved over time but running communities as a whole provide a safe place to train!
I also so train with other local running clubs, New Basin Blues, SoCalTrail, BlacklistLA.
What does that community do to make you feel strong, empowered, and supported as a female runner?
What the running community does is provide a safe network. When you run with people it significantly drops the likelihood of a strange man harassing or assaulting you vs you running alone. I think the clubs that are run by women really empower ladies to feel confident, strong and safe because it creates a strong sense of team unity and genuine care for one other. And that care surpasses the care for performance and much more about you as a human.
What improvements could be made in the running world (online and offline) to support and encourage more women to get into running?
Focusing on women as people versus as women as performance athletes. Most of the feedback I get from newer runners is the intense sense of intimidation, feeling like they don’t belong to run groups because they are “not as fast” or “not as in shape/skinny” which gives the impression that women see run clubs exclusively for fast, fit people.
Running communities should also invest in making everyone feel welcomed for example: having a female and male lead, having female pacer, and pacers of different paces, always waiting for the last runner to finish!
Do you feel safe running the streets after dark (or during the day) within your local neighbourhoods? If not, what recommendations do you have to make this different?
I do not feel safe running after sunset in any neighbourhood. RW did a survey in which 70% of women have been harassed on a run!
Some recommendation that I have thought about is:
- Reaching city councils and come up with plans to increase lighting around parks.
- Encouraging more people to create running clubs, or for current running clubs to offer more days of group running.
- To encourage brands to financially support a few local team to keep the clubs going- - like donating lights, shirts,, pepper sprays.
- Or encourage brands to come out and support local runs with appearances ie: Wednesday club run with g’ies from Fractel/NB/Brooks/Local stores etc
Words by Jess Mena — @tempo_with_jess
Images by @steadyarchives