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vision impaired runner

28 October 2010

When my husband, my dog and I walk/jog, we have our own methods and subtle tricks to conquer my visual challenges. The challenges are never constant and are dependent on my familiarity with the location, light sources and directions, guiding lines to follow, number of moving people or objects, unpredictability of the environment, time of day or night and whether or not it’s a good or bad day for my eyes.

Last night a dear friend and I decided to go for a run and try out a different system. We ran with a shoe lace tied into a loop and linked our ends around a finger. I’ve seen this system many times with old training friends, one of whom was completely blind with a sighted guide runner. It was so much fun to try it for myself. A few more sessions and we’ll have a rhythm and routine in place to deal with all the obstacles in our path! I was so thrilled that my friend was willing to try it out and offer me the chance to experience freedom in a different way. Thank you my precious. I wanted to tell you how much it meant, but, I needed to focus on the huffing and puffing!

I’ve also started thinking about those times where it could help to wear a singlet with the words “Vision Impaired Runner” written on it. My friend, my husband and I were talking about the choice of words. “Blind Runner” would be faster to read for other runners and cyclists, but then it would create confusion when they see me doing some things independently and in that moment they may not think that I am in fact vision impaired. And the intent of such a singlet would be to gain understanding for why I might unknowingly cut someone off for example and for there to be comprehension as quickly as possible as we pass people doing exercise on the pathways.

Ah, I love walking and jogging to get from one place to another for errands, to dinner and the movies, a friend’s party, a picnic, a late night summer ice cream stroll, or winter hot chocolate indulgence, or to exercise without any pressure to perform. Just the smell of flowers in my nostrils, the fresh air in my face, the feel of my muscles working, the spring in my step, gulps of water, laughing and talking, the green of the trees, the ever-changing water movements, taking in the architecture and new buildings or cafes, the company of many familiar strangers doing their exercise and quality time with my loved ones.

5 Responses
  1. October 28, 2010

    Oh my goodness! Love that you ran. I am running with a friend (also love to run with my husband, although he runs at a faster pace -unless he is being kind and holding back – which he is willing to do) and we just signed up for a 1/2 marathon in January. We use a tether that is awesome!

  2. October 28, 2010

    P.S. I have a bib that says ‘blind athelete’ It helps for others to be aware and clear the pathway. I am hoping to have one that says blind runner as that is when I use it.

  3. October 29, 2010

    i think it’s great that you’re looking to expand your space in the most creative ways + with the help of such lovely friends! hoorah for you. : ) i do appreciate the commentary as i want to know more about your journey.

  4. November 8, 2010

    Checking back in :) . A friend sewed my ‘tether’ and another friend years ago sewed my mesh vest that says ‘blind athlete’. They are both very helpful.

  5. November 12, 2010

    Hi there!

    This is S of Simply Bike (previously academichic). I love your blog and your photographs are beautiful! I also wanted to tell you that I saw a blind runner participate in the Salzburg half marathon this past spring. Well, I barely saw him, he flew right past me! He had on a singlet but I forgot what it said (and it probably was in German) and a friend who ran with him and was sort of ‘prepping the way’ for him by looking for ways to squeeze through the runners. They were pretty fast, so he was definitely passing a good amount of people. They were not tethered or attached in a any way, I think they were just using verbal commands, if I remember this correctly.

    Anyway, I thought it was amazing. Running a half is tough enough. Running it with extra challenges to consider is really amazing. I hope you keep running and writing about it because it’s very inspiring to me and, I’m sure, to other readers!

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