Runners learn self-defense, discuss safety on the streets

The Run Collective, a group of running clubs and organizations in New York City, is hosting several events for Runner Safety Awareness Week.

Runners at a self-defense course on Thursday night believe this class is more important now than ever before.

"I've gone through heckling, being catcalled, feeling threatened just by being who I am and doing what I love to do," Jennie Matz, of Brooklyn, said.

Todd Williams is a two-time Olympic runner and a black belt in Brazilian jiujitsu. He led the workshop at Brooklyn Running Company in Williamsburg. The class is part physical and part commonsense tactics for runners to use if they ever encounter an attacker.

"One of those tips I was talking about is having a name in your head that you could start screaming out. If someone started to approach you, they were to put their hands on you, you could plant a seed in their head that somebody is right around the corner," Williams said. "Maybe you won that fight before you have to physically get into that situation."

This class aims to help all runners but a big focus is on women because (source: The Run Collective):

  • 30% of women runners have been followed by a person in a vehicle, on a bike or on foot
  • 58% of women under 30 have experienced harassment while running
  • In comparison, only 4% of men of any age have reported harassment while running

"Some of these things are very simple but it's easy to forget in the hustle and bustle of New York City, and wherever else you may live," Run Collective co-founder John Honerkamp said. "So, it's really just being cognizant, a little more mindful. We don't want you to be too alarmed because we want you to go out there and run."

This workshop is just one of several events (including self-defense workshops, group runs, and panel discussions) going on through Saturday night.

See the remaining schedule here: