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With the assistance of my super team of running guides, I am slowly compiling some concepts that work well for me as far as what I require from a guide. I have listed below a few hints and tips that I have found useful for running guides to know. I will try to keep this page updated as time goes on.
It takes a special type of person to guide a blind runner as not only do they have to think about their own running, but they must be the eyes for somebody else who is depending on them to feedback what is going on. Anyone who takes this on and does it well will be fit, alert and slightly out of their mind. Its one thing to be able to guide while walking, but running is a whole new ball-game and 42.2km's is a long way.
For future reference, you can save the information on this page to your computer as a downloadable MS Word Document version
The first thing to be mindful of is that you as the guide need to be aware of what is ahead of both yourself and the blind runner and get use to the amount of ground width that is required. Its a bit like adjusting from riding a bike to driving a bus. Just because you will fit through a gap does not necessarily mean that we both will.
Running with a tether - I have found the best way to run with a guide is to run beside the person holding a small tether rope.
I use a 1 metre length of rope. I tie a loop at each end big enough to get your hand through easily. I also tie a knot in the centre as an additional grip point. This means when the rope is tied it would probably be about 400mm long. This is long enough to allow arm movement, but short enough to be responsive to direction changes.
I just loop my fingers through the loop rather than sliding the loop around my wrist. This is because some guides a clumsy and why should I hit the dirt because they trip up. LOL!
When in open areas the full length of the tether can be used so we both have free arm movement, but when we need to run close then hold it in almost wrist to wrist.
When running on the foot path, I have found it better to get the guide to run on the road side of the foot path as they can judge the driveway dips better.
When speaking commands, give at least 3 steps notice of the event so as to give prior warning. In some instances a count can be useful. For example: Curb down, in 3, 2, 1, down. You may become fairly coordinated where just an up or down at the right times is all that you require. For example "curb up" "curb down".
When needing to move in my direction, push my arm as well as speak the direction. When needing to move in your direction, pull on the tether rope as well as speak the direction.
Speak what is being approached. For example: shops ahead, narrowing foot path, traffic lights, obstacles, etc.
State any change of terrain. For example going on to grass, sand, metal road, puddle, foot path, road, etc.
In situations where we need to run in single file, I can tuck in behind the guide and let them lead first. Just say something like “We need to get through a narrow gap here, tuck in behind”. Do not push me in front and push me through.
Some voice commands to use:
I do not expect a running commentary of everything that you can see, but things of interest are cool. Remember that you are my eyes and I am your sarcasm. (Smile)
Do nots - Random statements such as "Watch it", "Turn", "Look out" mean nothing. Remember “Blind, not psychic”.
Here is a site that I found that gives some good tips. Tips for Runners with Visual Impairments - American Foundation for the Blind
For more handy guiding tips, you can also download this Guiding Tips MS Word document by Alan Barr or call Alan on his mobile 021 150 4990.
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