FAQs for Blind and Partially sighted Runners

As a first time blind or partially sighted runner, how do I get started?

Reading through this website and our Resources along with talking with other blind or partially sighted runners is a good place to start. We have all the information to help you get started and we know many people in many places ready to help out. 😊 What do I need to bring on a run?

What do I need to bring on a run?

Not a lot actually. Suitable running shoes and clothing for the weather conditions. Water and sun screen are always a good idea. Sunglasses and a hat are strongly recommended especially if running on a path near trees or low branches. For longer runs nutrition like a sport gel or snack. Some people like to have hand sanitizer and a small towel to wipe down with after a run.

Is there a video showing how running with a guide works?

Yes, you are in luck, the United in Stride guiding video covers the basics.

I have good partial sight, do I still have to use a tether?

Nope, many runners with partial vision run without a tether. We know partially sighted runners who can run on their own with good lighting and road conditions while others prefer to run with a guide offering verbal instructions, but no physical contact.). Just be honest with yourself and don’t be afraid or embarrassed to ask for help if you need it. Many of us have lived with limited or deteriorating eyesight for a long time so we know how things can change and how sometimes it’s hard to ask for help and let’s face it, running into another person or a tree is never cool.

Should I always run with the same person?

We recommend running with as many different people as possible. Variety is the spice of life after all. It’s smart to be comfortable running with different people especially if planning to run a race or doing serious training. You never want to be dependent on only one person for your runs just encase that person becomes injured or not available. Also running with different people gives more opportunity to learn and develop more friendships.

Should I ever change sides with my guide when running?

Generally speaking yes especially on longer runs. Our research shows running gait and form can change when running with a guide. Some individuals have mentioned shoulder pain and other discomfort on long runs. Changing sides from time to time on a long run helps prevent any potential discomfort or injury. An exception is if due to the nature of your vision loss e.g. blind in one eye you need a guide to be on a particular side .

Do I need to be in shape to begin running?

With training and opportunity, almost anyone can run. For those just starting out, there are beginner plans and proven strategies to get you going. Read the beginner information found on this site and the articles mentioned. We strongly recommend checking in with your doctor if you have any health concerns.

I’m not ready to run how about walking?

Absolutely, walking is an excellent way to maintain fitness and build up to running. Many runners started out walking, building strength and endurance before becoming runners. Also people complete full marathons walking and have been known to finish as fast as some runners.

What is a tether?

A tether is a strap that both the guide and blind / partially sighted runner hold at the same time while running. It is usually 30-45 cm long with a loop at either end. Almost any item with a bit of length can be used such as a lanyard or a length of rope. As long as it can be held loosely in the hand and made of strong, durable material, it can work as a tether. We find the straps used by climbers make excellent tethers as they are lightweight, strong and durable.

Where can I get a tether?

Sporting stores such as MEC sell all kinds of straps that can be used as a perfectly fine tether. A climbing strap costs around $20. Stunt Puppy makes a tether specifically designed for blind and partially sighted runners.

What about insurance or liability?

Everyone runs and participates in club activities at there own risk. As a club we do not accept any liability. Like other activities and sports there are risks and potential for accidents. We do our best to make sure everyone knows what they need to know.

What should I wear for running?

There are running clothes for all seasons and weather conditions from very hot to icy cold, rain or shine and everything in between. You want clothing that helps draw perspiration away from your skin, moves as you do and does not rub or chafe. Running clothing is made from technical materials such as high tech nylons, wool and special polyesters. Running clothing is lightweight and can be reflective for running in the dark or in poor conditions. For those needing support in the chest area supportive sports bras are available. There are special socks meant for running that are highly recommended and are totally awesome. Having proper shorts, shirts, jacket and shoes really helps. The one thing you should refrain from wearing is anything 100% cotton. When cotton gets wet from perspiration or weather conditions, it stays wet and becomes very uncomfortable. Wet cotton can chafe creating sores on your skin and can become dangerous in cold winter conditions. For more detailed information on running clothing, shoes and more, take a look at VeryWell Fit’s What to Wear Running article.

Where can I get shoes and clothing for running?

Any sporting goods store such as Sport Chek, MEC or a local running store will have what you need. There are stores specializing in running that have everything possible to get you outfitted. These stores can describe types of shoes and help find the right shoes for you. The stores that specialize in running will often have the best product knowledge and can be super helpful if you are just starting out.

What is the walk run method for beginners?

The walk run method is a great way to begin running and is often how many people get started. Basically you start with walking for a few minutes, like perhaps five, to get warmed up then you do a slow 60 second run followed by a two or three minute walking break. This pattern is repeated three or four times in succession on alternating days over a week. The following week, you reduce your walking breaks and increase your time spent running. Over the course of several weeks, your walk breaks become shorter and your running times get longer. Running Tips for Beginners by VeryWell Fit has an example of a run, walk, run plan.

How do I avoid the most common running injuries?

Read the 11 running mistakes article from VeryWell Fit and Running Technique article. The Strength, Activation and Mobility, and Recovery exercises provided in the Resources section of this website are designed to help prevent injuries from overtraining. Also starting slow and easy and don’t try to run a marathon on your first day. If an area on your body feels uncomfortable or hurts for more than a few seconds while running, stop and walk for a while. Having rest days and responding to how your body feels is crucial and if you are in pain for more than a few days, seek medical attention.

Where can I get a good 5k beginner plan?

Take a look at beginner plans and tips for new runners. These plans cover all the basics. United in Stride also has a beginner 5k and beginner 10k plan.

Where can I get a beginner workout plan for stretching, strength or recovery exercises?

Take a look at our beginner exercise routines in our Resources section. The plans are highly described, have detailed explanations for each exercise and are in written and recorded formats.

Where can I find an accessible half marathon plan?

Our Resources section has excellent beginner and intermediate half marathon plans. The plans are fully accessible and developed by the Runners Academy and elite and highly respected clinic specializing in running. These plans also include guidance on Strength, Activation and Mobility, and Recovery routines and a few other nuggets of useful information.

Where can I find accessible exercises and plans to support my running goals and help prevent injury?

Our Resources  section has fully accessible and well described routines for Strength, Activation and Mobility, and Recovery. All routines are in both written and recorded formats and are freely provided.

How fast should I run?

This is one of our favourite and most challenging questions. Unless you are working on speed or hill training, a good rule of thumb is to run at a conversational pace. Basically you should be able to have a conversation with someone while continuing to run. Pace is also determined by the comfort and experience levels of both the runner and guide as well as the experience of running with each other. Road, trail conditions and lighting can also have a role for determining pace. As a blind or partially sighted runner, you set the pace and your guide will determine if that pace is safe given the conditions and what is going on at the time. It is good to remember that just because you may be ready to pick up the pace, it may not be safe so always pay attention to your guide.

I feel my guide is going too fast or going faster than I feel safe with, what should I do?

First thing, stop running and then have a chat with your guide about your concerns. Remember you set the pace and need to feel safe and comfortable. It’s never good to run past the point of exhaustion and sometimes your guide might not realize how hard you are working. You might be tired or perhaps the trail or lighting conditions can make it really challenging for you. Just because you ran a particular route one time before without difficulty is no guarantee it will always be easy or without challenge. Also, if on a group run let the run organizer know if you are not comfortable with a certain guide for any reason because on group runs, we can switch people around if it is necessary.

How do I carry my phone and personal items when running?

There are running belts, holders and specially designed backpacks for phones, wallets, keys and the like. Any running or fitness type store will have them. You can also buy these products with ease from Amazon or other online stores. These types of products are widely available ranging in price from cheap and cheerful to crazy expensive and everything in between.

Where do I find guides?

You can start by reaching out to us. We run in the Toronto area but have contacts in many other cities in both Canada and the United States. Talk to the people at your local running store or gym. Check out the United in Stride site for a guide registry and more tips for finding guides. Take a look at the General FAQ section of this site for other running clubs we know of.

Where can I learn about nutrition and exercises for running?

Take a look at the Resources section of our site. You will find fully described exercises, information on nutrition and more.

Is there an accessible running watch?

Yes, the Apple Watch is fully accessible for blind and partially sighted runners. The watch has built in accessibility apps that work quite well. Samsung Galaxy smart watch is also fully accessible.

What apps work best for a blind or partially sighted runner?

Our members have found Strava works quite well with both Voiceover and Magnifier on the Apple watch. The Apple built in fitness trackers work quite well with assistive technology. Unfortunately some people are reporting the Nike app can be problematic with Voiceover.

What if I want to start a CCB Blind Roadrunners club in my city or town?

Go for it! We are here to help and will do our best to assist with helping you get started. Contact us at run@blindroadrunners.ca

Are there other blind running clubs or resources?

Yes, there are quite a few actually. Here are a few that we are aware of. Please let us know (run@blindroadrunners.ca) of others we could include.