Running while Blind

Running while Blind
Marathon, by Tom W. Used under Creative Commons licensing.

One thing about running that I’ve been noticing is how many people can do it despite sensory disabilities. I’m profoundly deaf, yet that doesn’t affect my running at all. Granted, I need to be careful about sweat and my hearing aid, and I don’t run with my cochlear processor because I’m afraid it will fall off. (It’s not anchored to the ear like a hearing aid, since I don’t have an earmold for it.) I’m still able to run with my iPod thanks to an earhook/T-coil version of the iconic white earbuds.

And if it rains, like it did for the Race to Wrigley earlier this year, I run without my hearing aid, because it would be too unwieldy to carry my trusty bubble umbrella for fear of poking someone’s eye out, and I get too warm in a rain coat. I just have to be aware of where people are and try to run at a reasonable pace and in a reasonable part of the track so I don’t trip up the people behind me.

I ran into that problem in Bike the Drive earlier this year. Again, it was rainy, so I took out my cochlear processor and hearing aid and put them in a hard case, and that in a Ziploc bag, and biked without the aid of my ears. My husband was riding with me, and he later told me that some people were yelling at me and were getting irate when I wasn’t responding to their requests to move over so they could pass me. He had to yell back, saying, “She’s deaf!” and then they backed way off. That happened several times. Hah. Good thing I couldn’t hear their angry yells. I would have gotten pissy at them.

Running while blind–that’s a whole ‘nother ball game.  Usually they run with a running partner to guide them, so they don’t trip over potholes or run into other people. A highschool classmate’s father, Steve Sabra, is legally blind, and he just completed his 19th marathon and competes with a running friend. A quick Google search proves that at least one marathoner runs with a white cane. Just today, the article that sparked this post, I read about a high school cross-country runner who got a dispensation to run with her guide dog.

I find it incredibly inspiring to see people be able to run, even when they can’t see me.

Don’t let any disability hold you back. Find something or somebody that will help you do what you love, and do it anyway.

Oh, one last thought. A nice thing about sign language–I know enough to converse, but I rarely have someone to practice with–is that you can still talk when you’re out of breath.

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