The other day my running partner decided to bring a friend to our run who was training for the Savannah Half Marathon. Imagine my surprise when they arrived and I discovered his friend was blind! I will admit that for the first few minutes I was a bit apprehensive; I’m not sure why, but I was. I mean, I knew blind people can run. Marla Runyan has been one of my personal heroes so I knew it was possible, but I had not met any blind runner until now. I mean, what would we talk about? Would we have to hold her hand the whole way?
Blind people can run, just like the rest of us. Their legs work just like yours, it’s their eyes that are different, which is something I already knew, but just needed to be reminded of. In fact, that wasn’t the only lesson I re-learned from this run. In many ways, my new blind friend was just like the rest of us runners, and running with her was an exercise in practicing my running etiquette.
We had to amp up the communication and pay more attention to road obstacles, but in the end running is running, whether you’re guiding a blind runner or just running with someone new. In hindsight, running with her was not much different than running with a sighted person: it was a wonderful experience because she is an awesome person.
If you’re interested in more information on running with those who have visual impairments, a great place to start is the United States Association of Blind Athletes, where you can read about how best to guide athletes or find a chapter near you.
Have you ever run with a runner who is blind or has some other physical impairment? Would you like to try it? Why or why not?
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