To kick off National Safety Month, AfterShokz has partnered with Not Today founder, Kelly Herron, and asked her to share why it’s important to remain alert while running.
One Sunday afternoon, Herron went out on a run and was brutally assaulted. She fought back and kept her attacker trapped until the police arrived. Herron’s Instagram photo of the GPS lines tracking her assault went viral, and since then she has been inspiring women around the world to fight back.
Learn more about Herron and her story below.
On Christmas Day 2016, I was inspired by my new running clothes and signed up for my first marathon. By early March, I was ten weeks into training and the plan called for my first double-digit run. I knew I would have to psyche myself up to get out the door to face a windy, rainy, 3-degree day.
To keep things interesting, I decided to make a new playlist and run a different route - little did I know how interesting it was about to get.
When I got to the waterfront I was grateful that I had my ear warmers over my headphones, and a baseball cap to block the wind and rain. When I reached the bathroom at the end of the beach, I ran in without hesitation, not even pausing to stop my Garmin or music.
I quickly rinsed my hands and put them under the dryer, wanting the relief of the warm air. At that moment, a chill ran up my spine and I turned around to see my worst nightmare right in front of me. A transient sex offender had been hiding in the last stall and I didn't hear him come out while I was drying my hands.
An all-out brawl ensued in the small, concrete and steel bathroom. My hat, headband, and headphones flew through the air after I was thrown to the ground. The self-defense class I had recently taken immediately came into play and I remembered to show the assailant that I’m more trouble than I’m worth. I took a backseat as the warrior within me took over, screaming “NOT TODAY, MOTHERF*CKER!” and I fought back with all my might. After what seemed like an eternity of screaming, kicking, punching and scrambling under the stalls, I escaped and trapped my attacker inside until police arrived.
The question I’m most often asked is, “what moves did you use?”. My first reaction to that is I don’t really have any “moves”, but within the confines of a bathroom stall I was able to claw his eyeballs and remember the phrase “hard bones to soft fleshy places”. That was my other “move” - hammering him the in the face with my forearm. His mug shot is proof that fighting back in this way is very effective.
Fighting is a last resort in self-defense - it is the ultimate “NO”. For the most part, self-defense is not about moves, it’s about awareness. I don’t blame myself for what happened that day, but I do look back at what I could have done differently. With my ear warmers over my earbuds and a baseball cap on top, I was completely in my own little bubble and didn’t pay attention to anything aside from the task at hand - finish my training run.
In the year since the attack, the primary thing I’ve changed about my running routine is to be more aware of my surroundings. Before discovering AfterShokz, I listened to podcasts instead of music and used one earbud instead of both. The other major change is I keep my head on a swivel and take note of my surroundings. When I see suspicious people, I think about what movie character I can compare them to, if I had to describe them to police. Hyper-vigilant? Probably. But that type of information is crucial if something happens and police need to track a suspect. My assailant is Marv from Home Alone and his mug shot is Marv after being hit in the face with a hot iron.
After sharing my story on the BibRave podcast safety episode, I had the opportunity to try out the AfterShokz Trekz Titanium headphones. Immediately, I knew it was the solution I had been looking for all along. Since the attack, a rule of thumb has been “you should hear the leaves crunch under your feet”. With AfterShokz, you can hear every single sound around you AND your music, without compromise.
It’s not the big “moves” that will save your life, it is the little things that will help prevent against being in a life-threatening situation in the first place. Make a new playlist, try a new route, keep your eyes and ears open (with AfterShokz, of course!), and if you ever find yourself in a fight for your life, know that you have a badass warrior within you that will take the wheel - so teach it how to drive.