Although, my blog has been mostly concentrated on technology, there are other things that I do in life. In the next few entries I'll let you into a few of my sports interests. Don't worry, technology is still in my portfolio. Let's start with running.
Remember the many hours spent in gym class where you ran either on a track outside or around a gym. I tended to get dizzy and I just hated the exercise. Well, things have changed for me over the years and I have now fallen in love with running. For one, I'm not being forced to run by a grumpy gym teacher. And for two, (hmm can I say that), well anyway, for 2, I can choose the speed, time and distance that I want to run. So, that makes it much more enjoyable. Here's how it works. Find yourself a keen sighted running partner, and/or an overzealous dog guide and go out running. I'm sort of joking about the dog guide, although you've never walked with me and my dog. SMILE
How does one run with a sighted guide? Well, there are a few techniques which I will go over below.
The preferable technique is by using a tether. I get a lot of lanyards from conferences that I attend. I never really found a use for them until I started running. I've seen people use belts, dog leashes, ties, whatever you have at hand. Regardless what you use, the length of the object is very important. I would suggest from 6 inches to a foot. You don't want to be too far from your guide; especially when running on sidewalks or crowded marathons. Using the tether enables you to run beside your guide and you can also touch elbows for added security.
Speaking of elbows, this brings me to the next technique. Although less preferred, it still works, but I wouldn't recommend it for long distances. You can use the old sighted guide technique where you hold the elbow of your running partner and just start running. Alternatively, you can have your guide hold your elbow and have them sort of push you along. This is a good technique when running through a dense cluster of runners. I used it for one of my 5 K runs last year. There wasn't enough room to use the tether. The drawback of using the elbow technique is you lose some of your running movement. You can only manipulate one arm properly and the shoulder of the arm you are holding your guide with tends to tense up after a while.
Finding a guide:
Easiest way to find a guide is to put the word out to your friends and family that you want to start to run. If they shy away, you could settle for walking with them. The goal is to get you out there and enjoying yourself while getting some exercise.
Can't find a guide within your social network? No problem. There are a few options at your disposal.
If you live in the Greater Toronto Area, you can go running with Achilles Canada every Saturday morning at the Leslie Spit. It's a very nice group of people and everyone is very encouraging. Running not your style. That's okay, there's a portion of the group that also does fast walking. Don't know what to do with your dog guide while you're running. They have doggie walkers as well. For more information on Achilles Canada, visit:
If you're still set on walking, then you might want to check out the following group:
Step out with the Safari Walking Group and enjoy moderate exercise in a natural environment of green spaces, trees, birds and water features.
The group meets weekly at public transit stops across Toronto. The walks are 5–6 kms long, last about an hour and a half, and take place on weekdays. The walking routes are chosen to support different visual abilities and facilitate independent travel without a sighted guide.
For running in other cities/provinces, I would suggest doing a search on the internet for running clubs in your area. You could also contact your local Running Room store. They would have running club information.
This may take a bit of self-promotion when approaching the clubs, but the end result supersedes any preliminary frustration. Can't convince them? Forward them this blog entry and we'll put their concerns at rest.
The most important factor when finding a guide is trust. That was one of my apprehensions when I first started. I've had many personal contacts with stucco walls in my childhood while running with other kids. To deal with this discomfort when I joined Achilles, I started slow and built my confidence for guides with whom I ran. Trust is no longer an issue and I now train new sighted guides in the art of running with a blind person. Besides technique, there is not much to it. Make sure you have good communication and that the guide explains the terrain around you. For example, warning you that a bump is coming and to pick up your feet.
Regardless what you end up doing, whether it be running or walking, always remember to stretch in order to prevent injury. Lastly, keep well-hydrated.
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