Marathon program aims to help runners protect selves
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Popping in headphones, turning up music and going for a run after work is not only a part of training, but it also can reduce stress and provide much-needed alone time.
But for single women, it can be a high-risk behavior, said former SWAT commander and U.S. Army veteran Craig Douglas.
On Thursday, the Pittsburgh Marathon and Douglas will present Safe Strides, a self-defense seminar geared toward teaching runners, especially women, to stay safe while training. The presentation, expected to draw 200 people, will be followed several months later by two separate daylong personal defense classes, also taught by Douglas.
“The presentation will basically be a model for recognition of risk so it's not going to be if someone grabs you, I'll show you how to get away,” said Douglas, 44, of Biloxi, Miss. “The time I have will be put toward not letting it get to a physical assault and how to recognize how criminals victimize people day in and day out, and small modifications you can make.”
That includes not being distracted by a phone or music to the point that one loses awareness of one's surroundings, an example of what Douglas will address during the seminar.
“Media devices have a tendency to narrow our focus, and it's that kind of narrow focus that draws criminals,” he said. “That lack of awareness is very observable to criminals and really is like a moth to a flame.”
Pittsburgh Marathon race director Patrice Matamoros got the idea to host a self-defense seminar from a fellow race director who sponsors a self-defense classes for female runners in Oklahoma City. Matamoros' own past experience with self-defense training and protective strategies once helped her out of what she called a very potential threat, and loved the idea of providing other women access to such skills.
Matamoros' husband, a former Navy SEAL, was acquainted with Douglas through martial arts training and they both agreed Douglas would be perfect to lead the seminar and, later, self-defense classes.
“I wanted women to know at a very basic level that protective strategies are powerful,” Matamoros said. “If there is a need to develop physical skills after the protective strategies, they can explore the possibilities.”
Matamoros said offering the class goes back to their basic premise of a 360-degree approach to their runners, and focusing not just on the race but on the person.
Many of Douglas' 21 years in law enforcement were spent in narcotics enforcement, and he said that working undercover gave him a very real sense of what it's like for a lone person to deal with assault. He also learned a great deal about how good many criminals are at what they do, and how they are successful.
“We need to understand what the problem is before I can present solutions,” Douglas said. “I explain from my education and experience how I understand criminal assault. … Experience is a really crappy way to learn. Unfortunately I've had a lot of experience. But that's a big part of what drives me.”
Karen Price is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach her at email@example.com or via Twitter @KarenPrice_Trib.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pirates’ attempts to bolster roster at deadline a fruitless endeavor
- After years of lobbying, Big Ben has Steelers running the no-huddle
- Spaling, Penguins agree to $4.4 million deal
- Greensburg man sentenced for heroin sales
- Steelers hold high hopes for pass defense
- EPA talks on pollution limits trigger protests, arrests Downtown
- Zappala disputes public safety director’s statement on police ID policy
- It’s lights out for Bayer sign on Mt. Washington
- Steelers notebook: Brown calls Sanders’ comments about Roethlisberger ‘terrible’
- Shooting investigation leads to large marijuana grow in Monessen
- Beloved teacher at 3 Western Pa. schools hears from students across nation