Tips on How to Handle Harassment while Working Out

Every adult should feel safe and has the freedom to workout at places convenient to him or her, be it on the street or at the gym. As many of us try to make the world a safer and a better place, we especially women and girls need to take extra precaution while working out. With the little time women have to workout due commitments like work, studying or taking care of family, the more reason why women need to be able to step into the gym or run at times and places of their conveniences.

Nowadays, there are more women walking, cycling and running outdoors. Most of the time, they are alone. It is completely understandable, as sometimes a woman’s free-time do not suit others and in order not to miss training or to be consistent, she would have to train alone. Getting cat calls are pretty common among female runners. It is not flattering, rather irritating. They can be ignored.

Workout Happy  & Safely

Fitness is a lifestyle. Due to this, a woman should not be afraid to exercise her rights to be on the street and at the gym to work out.  Women need to know what to do when they are harassed.

What are the form of sexual harassment?
Any unwelcome verbal and physical sexual attention that is directed to you. Sexual harassment need not to be in a form of physical contact and advances. Verbal harassment that is sexual in nature or jokes and unwanted sexual representation in visible manner, be it in a form of photos, physical exposure or text are considered sexual harassment too. If a person makes you feel uncomfortable due to his or her sexual conversation or physical contact or representation to you and if you are not certain if it is a harassment, talk to someone.

Be Prepared

1. Go to places & gym that are safe

  • Go to all ladies gym close to you. In Klang Valley, there are a few like the Curves and Femme Fitness.
  • Work out at a guarded and well lighted area. Avoid shady, dark and quiet areas.
  • Inform family member or friend about your workout area beforehand.
  • Avoid any group of men
  • Try not to be alone
  • Be unpredictable. Change routes, change workout times.

2. Bring protective gears

  • Self defense stick
    They are collapsible but smallest is also long – 19 cm onwards.
  • Pepper spray
    Small and handy. You can put it in pocket
  • Self Defense Personal Alarm
    Small and handy. There are several types, mostly key chains.

    Sabre and Mace are the brands that have both pepper spray and personal alarm in 1.

3. Have emergency numbers and apps handy

  • Always have emergency numbers and the nearest police station number on your mobile phone
  • Install apps that can facilitates you go get help immediately.
    In Malaysia, for example, you can use  Volunteer Smartphone Patrol App (VSP ) that allows you lodge a complain immediately and provide GPS coordinates and visuals. It is provided by the Malaysian Police Force.

    Volunteer Smartphone Patrol App

    Screenshot of VSP

What should you do when you are harassed?

  1. Stay calm, run for safety and defend yourself.
    If the harassment is verbal or not in a form of contact, just ignore and move away as fast and calm as possible. Go to the nearest person to you for help. Do not respond to offender. If necessary, in order to avoid physical contact, use any protective gears you have to defend yourself and get help as soon as you can.
  2. Get evidence and witnesses
    Be aware of your surrounding and of where you are. Remember how the person looks like as you need to be descriptive about the offender, also where the incident take place. If you are alone and have the opportunity, get evidence of the incident. It could be pictures. If there are witnesses closeby, get their information.
  3. Report to the authorities
    You can call the authorities immediately. You can use the VSP app in Malaysia to report and provide information of incident immediately.  Do not be afraid to lodge a report to authorities.
  4. Talk to someone if you need to
    Sexual harassment is something you want to avoid as what you experience can make you scared, angry and confused. Do not blame yourself for what happen and do know that the only person who can help you is yourself. Talking to others like family members and friends can only make you feel better but if you want to make things better for yourself and the community, lodge a formal report.  Only with the report, the authorities can take necessary measures to find the offender and make the area safer.

You should not be scared to exercise a woman’s rights to workout outdoor, on the street and at the gym. Those who are terrorizing others or have mental issues should be given help and taken away from the streets.

Put a smile on your face when you run. #runninghijabi

Towards a safer environment for women 😊

 

DNF? Know your limits!

Base on official result of recent Malaysia Women Marathon 2017, 8% of the Full Marathon participants and 1.5% of the Half Marathon participants did not finish (DNF) the race.

DNF or do not finish is something that every runner would try to avoid during races. Even those who are injured or suffering from cramps would try to walk towards the finish line. Some may say they are heroes, some would say that they are hurting themselves. But, as for me,..I wouldn’t want to arrive the finish line by an ambulance.

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Reach finishing line within cut off time is every runner’s aim 😉

I have participated in 9 Half Marathons (21km), 12 Full Marathons (42km) and 4 Ultra and alhamdulillah, I finished them all strong.

DNF may occur for a few reasons, and I would like to share with you the common four  and how to avoid them.

1. Lack of training and experience

If you have never trained for a long run; 15km, 20km, don’t even register for a Half Marathon, or even a Full Marathon. Know your limits. As for me, before I join a 10km run, I would run 10km 3-4 times a week. Once satisfied with the timing, I would join a competitive running event. Same goes with the Half Marathon. After I have trained for 21km distances, only then I’d join an event. As for 42km (Full Marathon), I started to join after running 8 Half Marathons. I joined Ultra after I have completed 9 Full Marathons. The point here is you need to have a lot of training and experiences from every single run that you join before you upgrade yourself to another longer distance.

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I try to run 10km at least , 3-4 times a week to maintain my stamina. 🙂

2. You don’t fuel yourself enough 

Some may DNF due to electrolyte imbalance; they may experience cramps or vomiting after half way, and this leads to dehydration. Some may have stomachache, due to spicy food they eat the night or day before. To avoid these problems, do take a lot of fluid ; drink a lot of water, isotonic drink a week before the event to ensure you hydrate well. Eat extra amount of carbohydrate and protein too. On the day of the event or a day before, avoid spicy food. As for me, if the event starts at 4am, my last meal the night before would be at 8pm and if after 8pm, I would take bananas and water. If you eat enough prior to the race, you don’t even need any energy bar/energy gel during the race. Your body is already prepared to use up all the glycogen to transform into glucose once you are in state of starving.

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Fuel yourself enough before and after race.

3. You don’t plan your run

Strategy is very important in every race. As for me, for a 21 km race, I would try to finish the first 10km within my usual time – 1 hour. And then, the next 11 km dragged to 1 hour 10 minutes. If it rains or if the route is tough or if I experience a cramp, I would still finish within 2 hours 30 minutes, InsyaAllah. If you continue slow jog or power walk for the last 5-8 km, you could finish under 3 hours, as long as you run your best the first 10-15 km. As for Full Marathon, my personal best is 4 hours and 57 minutes. My strategy is, I would aim my first 10km within 1 hour  to 1 hour 10 minutes and next 10km within 1 hour 20-30 minutes. So, my first 21km would be at least 2 hours 30 minutes, the slowest. If you maintain 1 hour 30 minutes (pace- 9min/km) for another 2 sets of 10km, InsyaAllah you can finish under 5 hours and 30 minutes. If you can push yourself enough, you would make it within 5 hours and 15 minutes. Last year, I finished my full marathon SCKLM in 5 hours 16 minutes, read my experience → https://blog.nashata.com/?p=6391

Full Marathon at Standard Chartered Kuala Lumpur Marathon 2017

Full Marathon at Standard Chartered Kuala Lumpur Marathon 2016

4. Not enough rest

Lack of rest and sleep will affect your performance at the race. This issue is not strange if you go for runcation (run + vacation). The tips here is go to the place earlier (1-2 days earlier) so that you can rest well before the race. You will not be in a rush and have more time to calm down and focus during the race.

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Having enough rest is the key for you to recover well after the race.

DNF is better than DNS (Do Not Start). So, whatever challenges there may be, let’s plan ahead and pray for injury-free and pleasant races. After all, what’s is the most important is TRAINING. Train hard, believe in yourself and with that, InsyaAllah, you will finish strong and happy.

Till then, keep running and be inspired!

The Weekend Runner: Race Rituals

As races slowed down, I find myself spending more time on reading and researching about running. After browsing a few articles, I came across several interesting information: Before a race, Usain Bolt admitted to eating chicken nuggets as one of the ways to prepare himself. Killian Jornet wrote in his book ‘Run or Die’, that he will have a jar of Nutella after every ultra race. I’ll call these practices as the ‘race ritual’.

 

While your race rituals may or may not be similar to the fastest man on earth, I am sure most of us have a unique set of mental preparation – a set of step-by-step behaviour that only takes place on Race Day. Regardless of the distance, location, or type of race, I have certain procedures that I will follow consciously and unconsciously and why I think they help.

 

–        Pre-race rituals

1)     Laying out my clothes on the night before the race. I do not want to end up looking for my number bib at 4am. Also, nothing new on race day to prevent chaffing, weird colour coordination, or other outfit mishaps.

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Which Nashata top and hijab goes well for tomorrow’s race?

2)     Eat. A lot. Carbo-loading, protein-loading, etc. Whatever you call it, everyone has different fuel and nutrition needs. Personally, I don’t see the difference, as long as I don’t skip dinner.

3)     Wake up at least 2.5 hours before flag-off time. Ample time to have breakfast, make coffee, warm up, and ensure that I get the best parking spot.

4)     Music on full blast while driving to the flag-off venue to get the adrenaline pumping. Confession: I love listening to Taylor Swift before every race.

5)     Check the race route. The elevation, road, a crazy uphill – basically, I need to study and know what I am in for.

6)     A quick facebook update once I am in the holding pen. And taking loads of pictures. I find that it helps to ease the pre-race jitters.

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Good morning everyone what time is it? It’s Race O’ Clock!!!

 

–        Post-race rituals

Only 3:

1)     Finisher pictures with the medal.

2)     Eat. A lot. Because it feels rewarding to know that I deserve that 2 pieces of roti canai and kuih.

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Not just desserts, but an extra piece of roti canai perhaps?

3)     Sleep and rest. I’ll be hibernating, do not expect me to emerge before evening.

Do you have your own race rituals? What about lucky objects, favourite socks, or something that you will never run without? Do you answer your phone or text messages on the morning of the race?

 

Signing off until next week,

The Weekend Runner.