There is absolutely no reason that lack of sight should stop you from being active. Blind and low vision people can enjoy a variety of exercise and recreational sports. All that is needed are a few changes to how you do it, and you’ll be on your way to a healthier and active lifestyle. This is true for running. Many people who are visually impaired are actively running for both recreation and at a competitive level. These include:
- Running or jogging on a treadmill at a gym.
- Running or jogging at in indoor or outdoor track.
- Running in your neighborhood or on a trail.
- Cross country or trail running.
- Running events such as 5km, 10km, half marathons, full marathons and even ultra-marathons.
- Taking part of events like triathlons, biathlons, the Ironman or extreme multi-sport events.
There is quite a lot of freedom for adaptation to the sport for low vision and partially sighted runners. We want to share some hints and tips to help you enjoy running whether you are just starting out or you’re already running.
- Consider investing in the right pair of running shoes. Not having the right pair of shoes could lead to unnecessary knee, shin and joint pain. Running or jogging is considered a high-impact sport and as we run, we differ in the way our feet hit and roll of the ground. Pronation is the inward movement of the foot as it rolls to optimally distribute the force of impact on the ground as you run. you should find the right shoe that help balance/correct for your type of pronation.
- Get the right attire. Fortunately, you can get running attire for kinds of weather. Most running shirts are designed to eliminate the moisture from sweat and reduce unwanted friction that can lead to chafing. I recommend using attire with bright colors which will help make you more visible to other runners, vehicles and pedestrians.
- Find a running buddy, partner or guide. Most visually impaired runners pair-up and run with a guide. A guide is someone who will provide visual cues, tell you about obstacles, pace and provide other important information during your run. United in Stride is the leading online source for find a guide nationwide. The site also provides important tips for both blind runners and guides.
- Running indoors or at a gym. The gym and indoor tracks are very helpful for training. When using a treadmill, be sure to familiarize yourself with the machine. I’ve found that most gym staff are very helpful in helping visually impaired members become acquainted with the equipment. Talk to your gym trainers and staff. If they are not willing to help, find another gym. When your using the treadmill, make sure to know the location of important controls like the Speed up/down, Pause and Emergency Stop. This is especially important when doing interval training. I’ve also find it helpful using the two sidebars or rails as guides to keep me centered.
- Running outdoors can be a lot of fun. If you’re going solo, I recommend using a running trail. If you are new to the trail, I would walk/jog the route a couple of times to get familiar and comfortable with the route. Make note of any intersections, areas where there are obstacles, like trash bins, posts, bushes and low hanging branches. Know the times that the trail is busy and when there is less pedestrian and bicycle traffic.
- Running in a group. You may choose to join a running or training group or signup to run a road race. The important thing about being a low vision runner and running with a pack, is to mind you distance between yourself and fellow runners. Be courteous, avoid cutting people off (or tailgating) as it’s the easiest way to trip yourself and a fellow runner. Take advantage of bright color clothing that other runner wear to help you know when people are around you.
- Keep your ears open, avoid using earbuds when listening to music. Though the right music can make the run more enjoyable, you don’t want to obstruct your sense of hearing. Consider getting a pair of bone-conducting earphones if listening to music during your run is an absolute requirement.
We hope that you find these hints and tips helpful, and that you enjoy the sport of running. Remember that lack of sight is no excuse to be inactive. So like the commercial say…Just do it.