Being visually impaired shouldn’t stop you from enjoying any activity, including running.
There are some important tips to keep in mind if you are planning on taking up on running and you have problems with your vision:
1. You will need to choose the appropriate guiding technique to rely on for running safely. - You can either choose to listen to verbal direction by a guide running next to you. This means learning to comply immediately to verbal commands and instructions you hear while running in order to avoid obstacles and possible dangers on the way.
- Another alternative is to run with a tether. A 30 inch long piece of rope, towel or other can provide the safety and the information needed for the running. Your guide will run beside you but slightly ahead of you. You will both hold one edge of the tether. Of course, during the run, the guide still gives you verbal information and directions, but the tether will make you notice the bends in the roads and the small direction changes easily. In case of an emergency, a pull on the tether will inform you of the direction you should switch to and go. The length of the tether depends on the differences in the paces, strides and heights of you and your guide. The more similar they are, the shorter the tether.
2. Pick your guide. Pick a guide who is safe conscious and doesn’t tend to take risks when running. The guide must be able to react quickly and have good enough judgment to keep you both safe at all times. Also, you need to find a guide who is stronger than you, because guides need to be able to communicate verbally and keep up with your pace at the same time. When you find your guide, tell him everything he needs to know about you, your running preferences, and any health problems you have. Make sure he is aware of your feet problems (flat feet, high arches, plantar fasciitis) as well. In case something happens, he will be able to pinpoint the issue quickly and act accordingly.
3. Pace setting. This is important, to make sure you discuss the pace with your guide, and communicate during the running whether the pace is satisfactory or whether you may need to speed up or slow down a little.
4. Keeping the time. Usually, visually impaired runners cannot use running watches. Make sure your guide keeps the time for you during the run. You should decide whether you want to time only the running and pause the clock at any stops you make, or whether you want to time the whole run, including any breaks and other stops. Both timing techniques are used by runners, so make sure you ask your guide about the timing technique you will be using.
5. Find a guide who can communicate quickly and efficiently. This means, being able to formulate the warnings and directions correctly, putting action first, ask about decisions for possible options when running in a timely manner, inform you of unknown terrains and about the things you are passing by.
6. Find other visually impaired runners in your area and form or join their group. Meet new people, have fun on the way and stay fit by getting to know the joy of running, no matter how impaired visually you are.
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