September 17 2018
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Kelly Herron was four miles into a Sunday afternoon run earlier this year when things took a life-changing turn. Ducking into a restroom in the middle of Seattle’s Golden Gardens Park, Herron was attacked by a man hiding in a stall. She was blindsided and a frightening struggle ensued. After he punched her in the face and knocked the 36-year-old to the ground, she crawled into a stall and he followed. “I remember thinking, This is it. I am going to be raped on this concrete floor with sand in my teeth by this revolting person,” Herron says.
Using self-defense techniques she had learned recently at an office workshop, Herron managed to break free and lock her attacker in the bathroom until police arrived. Today, Herron proudly calls herself a survivor, not a victim, of assault. “Women are BUILT to be strong, to be brave and are capable of more than we can even imagine,” she says.
Unfortunately, Herron’s story isn’t one of a kind. From catcalls to indecent exposure, female runners everywhere have tales of harassment mid-stride. Though the likelihood of an attack is very low, it’s best to have the know-how to defend yourself. As gruesome attacks land in the news, more women are finding value in not only learning self-defense but carrying protective gear, too.
“You have insurance for your car, your home, your personal things—why wouldn’t you have insurance for your body?” says Gabrielle Rubin, founder of Female Awareness, a self-defense class in New York City. “With the right moves, you’ll be empowered instead of scared. Confident instead of paranoid.”
Here, Rubin gives us her eight essential self-defense tactics for female runners. She suggests practicing them whenever you have a spare moment, like while you wait for the subway or for copies at the copy machine. “See how many repetitions you can get in a minute,” she says.