Running is an excellent sport if you want to get outdoors and active. You also don’t need any fancy equipment, and the exercise can start as soon as you step outside your front door. For visually impaired people, there are challenges, but we’ve put together some links and ideas that we hope will inspire you to get started. Whether your goal is the Great North Run, the lively Liverpool marathon, or the local Parkrun, we hope you decide to take the first steps and get running!
British Blind Sport’s aim is to enable blind and partially sighted people to have the same opportunities as sighted people to access and enjoy sporting activities across the UK. Their website has links to a range of sports, from football and target shooting to ten pin and tennis. For blind and partially sighted runners, they can also put you in touch with guides in your area. All the information you need is on their website: britishblindsport.org.uk.
For blind runners, the actual motion of running might make you feel sick at the start. Give your body and your brain time to get used to the new sensation, and take it slowly at the start. Also be honest with your guide and speak out if the pace is too fast – or for that matter too slow. By focusing on the sounds and smells as you run, it will help keep your mind off how tired you might be feeling. And when you’ve had enough and need to stop, it’s a good idea not to come to a complete standstill. Try starting with a fast walk, then run, then walk again at the end, to help you cool down.
Parkrun organise free, weekly 5km runs across the country. For visually impaired runners, these have the advantage of being away from traffic, as their events always take place in local parks and common land. There is also the safety of knowing you are running with a group of people in an organised event. They welcome all runners, of every level of fitness, and Parkrun is a great way to meet up with other runners in your local area, as well as being a good training opportunity if you are building up to a larger event: parkrun.org.uk
Once you have built up your stamina and are looking for the next challenge, check out marathonrunnersdiary.com for information on national and local events, full and half-marathons, as well as top tips on training and running gear. Your guide might not always be available, so consider a treadmill at your local gym as an option for safe training to increase your fitness
A great place for listings on outdoors activities, places to go and clubs to join is: timeoutdoors.com. They have events and ideas ranging from things that you can do with your family and friends, spending quality time together in the fresh air, to more demanding events if you are looking to set yourself a personal challenge, where you could look at sponsorship as a way to raise money for a charity at the same time.
Finally, let’s hear from Colin, an experienced marathon runner, who competes in various events across the country. Here are some of his insider tips:
‘I’ve done the Manchester one twice now, it’s in April. The appeal there would be for first timers – it is the flattest in the country! It’s also not too hot at that time of year.
The other marathon I do every year is Liverpool, on the Whitsun weekend, at the end of May. This one is great fun, with a different live band every mile.
This year I’m trying something new and competing in the Birmingham Marathon, in October. Now the appeal for this one is that it will be the first Birmingham marathon, apart from a one off about 30 years ago before running got popular. The downside, running wise, is that you need to do your training over the summer when it might be a tad warm.’
I hope we have inspired you to take the first steps and get running this summer! And if you are aiming for a marathon, please get in touch as we can help you with fundraising ideas, as well as cheering you on!