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Runner Safety Tips From Former Olympian and BJJ Black Belt Todd Williams

Runner Safety Tips From Former Olympian and BJJ Black Belt Todd Williams

Friday, September 12, 2014 - 12:32pm

Lindsey Collins of RunSafer, Ray Pugsley of Potomac River Running and former Olympian Todd Williams at the Potomac River Running store's newest location (919 F street). 

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ActiveLifeDC caught up with former Olympian Todd Williams at the very beginning of his four-day tour around D.C. and Virginia hosted by Potomac River Runner Store and Asics. An American record holder and 2:11 marathoner, Williams also holds a Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and combined the two sports to create RunSafer, a program designed to help teach runners about safety and tips to help protect themselves in dangerous situations.

Safety Running Tips from Williams:

- Power In Numbers: “Try to get involved with running specialty stores so you can have a buddy system. I think that’s the best arena in the planet to get that group setting. It's for the safety side but it's also the sponge of being a better runner. And if you can't get involved, try to create your own group.”

-Go With Your Gut Feeling: “If you see something, say something. I think the stand by effect is a big problem where people just stand back and don't do anything. People need to be proactive and…it's more important than ever for people to step up.”

-Utilize Technology: “Runners should utilize apps like road ID where family and friends can track you.” Williams added that there are other apps available that you can link up with training partners as well.

-Have a Plan: “Have a plan or dress rehearsal for your family and friends in the case of an emergency.”

At the beginning of his D.C. tour, Williams was going on his 108th workshop and had just finished another workshop across the country. Despite the crazy schedule, Williams was energized.

“I love doing it, this is a dream come true,” Williams says. “If I talk to anyone in the younger generation… I try to tell them to find something you really love. And try to turn that into a job.

But how does Williams find the time to keep up his running and Jiu Jitsu while traveling across the country to share his knowledge? He says it has to be a “priority.”

“There are days that are really tough," Williams says. "If you’re doing 13 workshops in three days, you’re more mentally exhausted than physically, but you just have to get it done.”

Williams teamed up with Potomac River Running earlier this summer to present a RunSafer workshop. One of four owners of Potomac River Running, Ray Pugsley, says after seeing the presentation in July he realized the information didn’t just apply to runners.

“It’s applicable to everybody," Puglsey says. “Everybody walks across a parking lot at night. Everybody walks down the street to a friend’s house.”

Pugsley added that he hopes the free workshops will give runners the confidence they need to act in any situation that they may encounter.

“A lot of what Todd does is pull it all together in a package and give people the confidence to say some of those things you thought were right, were actually right,” Pugsley says. “And we’re going show you some other things too.”

Williams has several other stops on the queue for the rest of the year and says he doesn’t sleep much, but added he doesn’t want to sleep because every hour is an “opportunity.”

“I created something that I love, have a passion for, and that’s influencing people in a positive way. That’s a high for me.”

Check out one of Williams’ FREE workshops this weekend:

Friday, September 12, 2014:
5:30 pm – 7:00 pm
=PR= Arlington in Arlington, VA

Saturday, September 13, 2014
7:30 am – 9:00 am
=PR= Ashburn in Ashburn, VA

10:30 am – 12:00 pm
Robinson High School in Fairfax, VA

1:00 pm – 2:30 pm
Reston Town Center in Reston, VA

2:30 pm – 4:00 pm
Reston Town Center in Reston, VA

4:00 pm – 5:30 pm
Reston Town Center in Reston, VA

Sunday, September 14
10:00 am – 11:00 am
=PR= Tysons

12:30 pm – 2:00 pm
=PR= Fairfax

3:30 pm – 4:30 pm
George Washington University in Washington, DC

For more information about Williams and RunSafer, visit www.RunSafer.com.

About the Author

Jamie Corey is a RRCA certified coach and author of RunsterInc.com. Jamie has completed eight marathons, several triathlons and is currently training for her first Ironman. When she isn't trying to find the best bagel in town, she is usually tweeting at @TheRunster.