Upcoming Events

See what we races we are going to do in the spring of 2019

February 16th Hot Chocolate 5k/15k

Location: Bicentennial Mall State Park

Time: 7:00 am

February  23rd Tom King Classic 5k/Half Marathon

Location: Nissan Stadium

Time: 7:55 wheelchair start, 8:00 half marathon start, 8:15 5k start

April  13th  – Purity Moosic City DairyPure® Dash

Location: Metro Center

Time: 5k starts 7:30; 15K Starts 8:00

April 27th St. Jude’s Rock ‘N’ Roll, 5k/half/full marathon

Location: 8th Ave  & Broadway

Time: 7:15 marathon and half marathon start, 6:45 5k start

Disability Specific Guiding Tips

General Tips for Guiding            

Before the run: 

Make sure to communicate with your athlete before the run begins. The two of you can discuss strategies for how to make the run go as smoothly as possible. Some things you can ask your athlete are:

  • What kind of assistance do you like to have during your run? What kinds of physical or verbal cues do you prefer?
  • How far do you want to go, and what type of pace?
  • Are there any special things I need to know before we leave?

During the run:

 Make sure to encourage your athlete to do their best, but don’t push harder than they are able to go! Don’t set the pace unless they ask you to, run at your athlete’s natural pace.              

After the run:

Help your athlete get water and snacks when they are available.

Talk to your athlete about how the run went, and if any changes would be helpful for next time. Make sure your athlete is safe before you leave (e.g., with group, at community center, has ride).

Disability Specific Tips for Guiding 
Visual Impairment (VI)/ Blindness

Below are levels of VI:

Class B1: No light perception in either eye, and inability to recognize the shape of a hand at any distance or in any direction.

Class B2: From ability to recognize the shape of a hand up to visual acuity of 20/600 and/or a visual field of less than 5 degrees in the best eye with the best practical eye correction.

Class B3: From visual acuity above 20/600 and up to visual acuity of 20/200 and/or a visual field of less than 20 degrees and more than 5 degrees in the best eye with the best practical eye correction.

What does this mean for guiding? 

Depending on your athlete’s level of vision, they may prefer different styles of guiding. Some athletes will want to use a tether, some will want to use an arm lock, and some may feel comfortable simply running beside you. Make sure to communicate with your athlete before your run, and ask them what their preferred style of guidance is.

General Tips for Guiding a VI/ Blind Athlete

  • Gently push the arm of the runner when you need to move in the direction of your runner. When you need your athlete to move in your direction, gently pull on the tether or arm. Always pair with spoken direction.
  • Inform your athlete of things you are approaching such as narrowing path, speed hump, traffic lights, and obstacles, and be specific!
  • Inform your athlete in advance of any terrain changes such as going from pavement to dirt path, puddles ahead, and going across the grass.
  • If you need to run in single file briefly, the guide should go first and lead the athlete through. Give your athlete fair warning.
  • When using a tether, the length is long enough for arm movement and short enough to be responsive to directional changes. It is safer to loop your fingers through the loop instead of looping it around your wrist, to allow either the guide or athlete to let go safely and avoid injury should one of them fall.
  • Inform your athlete of potential hazards (e.g., slippery bridges, gaps, puddles, potholes, bike riders, strollers).
  • Run beside your athlete. If you are in front, even slightly, the athlete can trip on your feet.
  • Achilles will give you a tether, which is simply a shoestring with a loop on either end. Hold onto the loop with your hand. Do not tie it around your, or your athlete’s, wrist, which could be dangerous if either of you fell.
  • In the beginning, have your athlete hold your elbow, or hold the tether closely to your athlete’s hand. As you get more comfortable with your athlete, you may loosen up, allowing more distance between you.
  • Give an estimated distance to the top or bottom of a hill, bridge, curb, etc. Otherwise, just look at the landscape, and tell your athlete what you see! Bridges, trees, golfers, other runners, bikers, creek, sunset, etc.
  • Offer key directional verbal support, for example:
    • “Gentle right/left” to indicate a gentle curve in the path
    • “90 degrees” or “sharp left/right”
    • “Tighten up” tells the athlete to get close, and hold your elbow as you navigate a narrow or congested passage (bridges, runners coming towards you)
    • “Stop” when guide and athlete need to stop quickly (dog/car/obstacle darts in front of path)
  • Your athlete may have a guide dog, who might come with if you are walking. Do not play with the dog while they are working.

For More Info Visit our Tips for Guiding a Visually Impaired (VI)/ Blind Athlete)

Physical Disabilities

This category of disabilities includes athletes who are ambulatory (walks), but still have a physical disability that makes running on their own challenging. This may include any number of reasons, including a prosthetic limb, or difficulty with motor function that is aided by canes, crutches, or walkers.

It also includes those athletes who are not able to utilize their legs for running or walking due to a disability or condition such as, but not limited to spina bifida, spinal cord injury, or cerebral palsy. These athletes might choose to use a handcycle, a wheelchair (racing chair or regular manual chair), or an adapted trike for running. 

General Tips for Guiding an Athlete with a Physical Disability:

  • Talk to your athlete to see what type of assistance they need, they may prefer standby assistance or may want physical assistance when running.
  • Keep in mind that physical disabilities do not equate to intellectual disabilities and you should never assume this is the case with the athlete you are guiding. Some physical disabilities do cause speech difficulties and still the athlete can have completely normal cognitive abilities. 
Wheelchair Athlete

A wheelchair is completely self-propelled by the user pushing forward on the wheels.

General tips for guiding a wheelchair athlete: 

  • Wheelchair athlete being guided by runners running besideAn athlete with a wheelchair will travel slower on uphills, and faster on downhills.
  • During races, position yourself so someone is ahead of the athlete during races to warn people. You will typically be guiding with someone else.
  • Make sure to have something visible on the back of the chair so people can see it coming (like a flag)
  • Always check equipment before a race.
  • Make sure to be safe when helping an athlete transfer into or out of their wheelchair. Ask them how they typically do it, and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it!
Handcycle Athlete

A handcycle is a three-wheeled cycle with gears that is propelled by the arms rather than the legs, often used by athletes who have more function in their arms than legs.

General tips for guiding a handcycle athlete

  • Handcycle with guide running besideMake sure to be safe when helping an athlete transfer into or out of their wheelchair. Ask them how they typically do it, and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it!
  • If an athlete has lowered motor skills, they may use a tether with you on the back of their handcycle. You can use this to provide some extra control for speed when needed.
  • A flag at standing eye level height is required for handcycles to alert other individuals of its presence.
  • Safety helmets must be worn by Achilles athletes on wheels.
  • Handcycle athletes are generally fast, especially when traveling downhill. They will likely get ahead of you. You can catch up on the inclines.
  • Some races do allow guides on bicycles on the course. Contact the race director at least 6 weeks prior to the event to inquire…never assume!
 Intellectual Disabilities

An intellectual disability is characterized by limitations both in intellectual functioning (reasoning, learning, problem solving) and in adaptive behavior, which covers a range of everyday social and practical skills.

General Tips for Guiding an Athlete with an Intellectual Disability

  • Short directions tend to be easier to understand for these athletes.
  • Always show respect for the athlete.
  • It may be necessary to repeat directions a few times.
  • Make sure to provide encouragement throughout the run!
Hearing Impairments

Hearing impairment, or hearing loss, occurs when you lose part or all of your ability to hear. Other terms that are used to refer to hearing impairment are deaf and hard of hearing. Hearing impairment can be classified as mild, moderate, severe or profound.

General Tips for Guiding an Athlete with a Hearing Impairment

  • Figure out how your athlete prefers to communicate with others.
  • Use cue cards and hand gestures during your run!
  • If necessary, stop and gain eye contact to help communicate.
Medical Conditions
Diabetes

A disease in which the body’s ability to produce or respond to the hormone insulin is impaired, resulting in abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates and elevated levels of glucose in the blood and urine.

What does it mean for guiding?

Make sure to listen and communicate with your athlete about his or her needs while running. Make sure they are staying hydrated, and check in with them about how they are feeling. If your athlete is not feeling well, it’s better to cut the run short and get back to safety.

Asthma

A respiratory condition marked by spasms in the bronchi of the lungs, causing difficulty in breathing.

What does it mean for guiding?

Ask your athlete if they have an inhaler that they typically take on runs. Make sure to communicate with them about how they are feeling throughout the run, and adjust your paces as necessary.

Tips for Guiding a Blind or Visually Impaired (VI) Athlete

If you’re running with a VI runner for the first time, you might feel a little nervous about the whole thing. That’s not unusual, and we want you to feel comfortable. You will be paired with a runner and their guide to gain an opportunity to see how guiding works. This is a good time to ask questions and take a short turn guiding while with an experienced guide.

Pre-Guiding


In order from left to right: Guide Amy Harris (in a black jacket ,headlamp, and reflective vest), Athlete Theresa Khayyam (in a blue jacket, headband, and reflective vest, JoAnne Sacks (in a grey shirt, headlamp, and reflective, vest), and Jana Bergman ( in a lime green Achilles shirt and hold gloves) all hands are in the airIt’s good practice to talk to the runner you will be guiding before you run together for the first time. This will give you and your VI running partner time to discuss strategies on how to make the run go as smooth as possible. Things to ask your athlete before you start:

How much do you usually run?

What is your regular pace?

What guiding method do you prefer (e.g., tether, hold elbow)?

Do you like to talk or listen to music when you run?

What side do you prefer to run on?

Can you please describe your loss of vision and how it affects running?

What cues (e.g., verbal, physical) and assistance work for you during a run?

Any special things I need to know?

It is generally helpful and appreciated by athletes when guides point out things of interest. Different athletes like different amounts of talk and information. Simply ask how much information is enough and how much is too much.

Regarding music, it is good practice if an athlete is listening to music to keep one ear bud out so they can hear directions and other environmental sounds. It is strongly discouraged for guides to wear earbuds as this distracts from their primary responsibility of keeping the athlete safe.

During Guiding


  • Start slowly when you first begin guiding. This gives you a chance to get familiar with this new concept or person.
  • The VI runner should set the pace, unless the VI runner asks you to.
  • Be alert and communicate.
  • Be aware of what is ahead of both you and your athlete at all times including such things as distances, elevation, obstacles and things in your peripheral vision.
  • It is helpful when giving directions, to give at least 3 steps notice of the event so as to give prior warning (e.g., curb up in 3, 2, 1, up).Athlete Ricky Jones on left wearing an Achilles shirt and blue shorts and Guide Peter Pressman on right wearing an Achilles shirt, blue shorts, and white hat
  • Gently push the arm of the runner when you need to move in the direction of your runner. When you need your athlete to move in your direction, gently pull on the tether or arm. Always pair with spoken direction.
  • Inform your athlete of things you are approaching such as narrowing path, speed hump, traffic lights, and obstacles.
  • Inform your athlete in advance of any terrain changes such as going from pavement to dirt path, puddles ahead, and going across the grass.
  • If you need to run in single file briefly, the guide should go first and lead the athlete through. Give your athlete fair warning.
  • When using a tether, the length is long enough for arm movement and short enough to be responsive to directional changes. It is safer to loop your fingers through the loop instead of looping it around your wrist, to allow either the guide or athlete to let go safely and avoid injury should one of them fall.
  • Inform your athlete of potential hazards (e.g., slippery bridges, gaps, puddles, potholes, bike riders, strollers)
Some common directional commands include:
Left/Right – When directional changes are neededCurb up/Curb down – When approaching curbsDuck – When athlete needs to duck down (e.g., low tree limb in path), let them know when they can safely resume upright posture also.Uneven ground –Give athlete warning when ground is uneven (e.g., road work causing bumpy roads)Speed humps – Give athlete advance warning for humps, bumps in the road

Tip: You can practice with other fellow guide runners by running blindfolded and allowing others to guide you. This will enable you to feel what it’s like running with little or no vision, and you can make the necessary adjustments when guiding a visually impaired runner. Keep in mind, however, that a runner with VI has skills and experiences related to their disability that you cannot begin to experience after a trial run blindfolded. They have more acute skills and are likely much more tuned into changes in surfaces, environmental sounds, the wind, words being said, and things around them in general. This practice might give you a little more awareness and sensitivity to what the VI runner experiences.

After Guiding


  • Help your athlete get water, snacks if available
  • Talk about how the run went and if any changes would be helpful
  • Make sure your athlete is safe before you leave (e.g., with group, at community center, has ride)

Tips For Runners

 

Pre-Run Tips

Train for the specific event for which you’re running; in other words practice goal pace and in an environment that is similar to the race. For training, keep the total distance covered Guides Cassie Mcdonald, Jenna Schuchard, Tiffany Turner, and Becky Richardson dressed up as reindeer and Athlete Amy Saffell dressed up as Santashorter than the goal race, or run at your race pace in shorter segments with rest breaks (interval training).

To reduce injury, increase weekly training mileage by no more than 10 percent per week.

Don’t eat or drink anything new before or during a race or hard workout.

Stick to what works for you. 

Wait for about 1.5 – 2 hours after a meal before running to allow your food to properly digest. Some ideas for pre-run snacks/meals include oatmeal, peanut butter on bagel or toast, or carrots with hummus.

Dress for runs as if it’s 10-20 degrees warmer than it actually is. The table below gives a runner an idea of how to dress for different temperatures; windy days might require more clothing to stay warm.

TEMP  WHAT TO WEAR
Above 70 Lightweight/light-colored Dri-fit singlet and running shorts
60 to 69 Tank top or Dri-fit singlet and running shorts
50 to 59 Dri-fit T-shirt (short or long sleeve) and running shorts
40 to 49 Long-sleeve Dri-fit shirt and running tights or shorts
30 to 39 Long-sleeve Dri-fit shirt and running tights
20 to 29 Two upper-body layers (e.g. long sleeve Dri-fit and half zip) and cold weather running tights
10 to 19 Two upper-body layers (e.g. long sleeve Dri-fit and half zip) and one/ two (e.g. leggings, cold weather running tights) lower-body layers
0 to 9 Two/three upper-body layers (e.g. long sleeve Dri-fit and half zip, running jacket), one/two lower-body layers (e.g. leggings, cold weather running tights)
Below 0 Three upper-body layers (e.g. long sleeve Dri-fit, half zip, running jacket), two lower-body layers (e.g. leggings, cold weather running tights)

Running 

A sign that says RunStart every run with a warm-up (e.g., 5-10 minutes of walking or slow running), and do the same to cool down. Stopping too quickly can cause leg cramps, nausea, or dizziness.

For a few days before a long race, emphasize carbohydrates in your diet.

You should be able to talk in complete sentences while doing long runs. Talking should not be easy during hard runs or races.

Do your longest training runs at least 2 minutes per mile slower than your 5K race pace.

There are no drawbacks to running them slowly. Running them too fast, however, can compromise your recovery time and raise your injury risk.

Run slower on hot days.

Generally, the longer the race, the slower your pace, so your 10K will be slower than your 5k, your full marathon will be slower than your half.

Windy days will slow you down. A headwind always slows you down while a tailwind speeds you up. Monitor your effort, not your pace.

Run against traffic except when running into leftward blind curves where there’s a narrow shoulder or in construction area; bike with traffic.

Wear reflective gear (e.g. headlamps, reflective clothing, blinkie lights) pre-dawn, and after sunset and in foggy weather.

Build up to and run at least one 20 to 22-miler before a marathon.

Long runs are like the marathon, as they require lots of time on your feet.

Hilly runs to be slower than flat runs. Monitor effort not pace. Running uphill slows you down more than running downhill speeds you up.

Take at least one easy day (e.g. short, slow run, cross-training day, no exercise) after every hard day (e.g. long run, tempo run, speed workout)

If you hurt for a couple of days, rest. If something hurts for a week or more, even if you’ve taken your rest days, see a doctor.


Post-Run

Your workout is not over when you stop your watch at the end of a run.  Here are a few steps to help your body recover and prepare you for the next day’s workout.

  • Athlete Chris Pennington giving Guide Carrie Redmon a shoulder massageHydrate as soon after your run as possible.
  • Stretch major muscle groups and anything that is sore or tight. Roll out any nagging injuries or problem areas.
  • Eat a small meal that contains a 4 to 1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein soon after running
  • Take an ice bath
  • Eat a decent sized, healthy meal several hours after running
  • Nap, put your feet up, or get a massage
  • Go for a short walk
  • Roll out on the foam roller or stick
  • Get plenty of sleep

For each mile that you race (full effort half or full marathon), allow one day of recovery before returning to hard training or racing. If your race effort wasn’t all-out, taking fewer recovery days is okay.

 

Tips For Guiding Athletes

Achilles guides serve as the athlete’s eyes, ears, guide, motivator, and most importantly…trusted running partner!  Guides help to welcome Achilles athletes to the wonderful world of running, by promoting friendship, encouraging the athlete, helping them build self-confidence with running activities, & having fun!

When you ask a guide how they feel about guiding they generally always respond that they get back much more than they give.

Things to ask your athlete prior to guiding

Achilles athletes have a wide range of disabilities. It is critical that guides and athletes have good, open communication. When you are assigned to an Achilles athlete, don’t be afraid to ask the following:

  • Have you been exercising/walking/running? What is your exercise experience?
  • What specific challenge(s) do you have related to running, walking, cycling?
  • Do you use any special equipment? If so, what equipment or adaptations do you use? (ex. tethers, quad canes, braces, crutches, prostheses, wheelchair, handcycle)
  • What do I need to know about your equipment and how to best help you?
  • What are your goals and how can we best help you meet these?

What you will do as a guide

Guide BibAs an Achilles guide, you might do the following:

  • Help an athlete with a disability become familiar and proficient with any special equipment if needed (e.g., using a tether, using a handcycle)
  • Participate in training workouts with the athlete; consistency helps.
  • Provide companionship and positive feedback.
  • Provide guidance and running advice during workouts and/or races if you are comfortable and knowledgeable doing so; generally this is left to the team coaches.
  • Help with race-day or day before logistics (e.g. packet pick-up, attaching timing chips).
  • Participate in the race alongside the athlete with whom you’ve been training
  • Carry the snacks or nutrition for the athlete during a run.
  • Get water/ Gatorade at water stops as needed.
  • Provide encouragement and positive feedback. Your job is to ensure that he/she has a positive experience.
  • If your athlete becomes tired, encourage him/her to walk or take a short break.
  • Provide course navigation.

If anything else is needed or requested, bring it to the attention of your chapter leaders. (Note: Guides for travel races might have more responsibility, and these will be clearly outlined before trips).

Running with a visually impaired athlete 

  • Run beside your athlete. If you are in front, even slightly, the athlete can trip on your feet.
  • We will give you a tether, which is simply a shoestring with a loop on either end. Athlete Christy Ray being Guided by JanaHold onto the loop with your hand. Do not tie it around your, or your athlete’s, wrist, which could be dangerous if either of you fell.
  • In the beginning, have your athlete hold your elbow, or hold the tether closely to your athlete’s hand. As you get more comfortable with your athlete, you may loosen up, allowing more distance between you.
  • Give an estimated distance to the top or bottom of a hill, bridge, curb, etc.
  • Otherwise, just look at the landscape, and tell your athlete what you see! Bridges, trees, golfers, other runners, bikers, creek, sunset, etc.
  • Offer key directional verbal support such as:
    • “Gentle right/left” to indicate a gentle curve in the path
    • “90 degrees” or “sharp left/right”
    • “Tighten up” tells the athlete to get close, and hold your elbow as you navigate a narrow or congested passage (bridges, runners coming towards you)
    • “Stop” when guide and athlete need to stop quickly (dog/car/obstacle darts in front of path)

Click here for more information on running with a visually impaired athlete

Running with a wheelchair or handcycle athlete

  • A flag at standing eye level height is required.
  • Safety helmets must be worn by Achilles athletes on wheels.
  • Pushrim wheelchair and handcycle athletes are generally fast, especially on the downhill. They will likely get ahead of you. You can catch up on the inclines.
  • Some races do allow guides on bicycles on the course.  Contact the race director at least 6 weeks prior to the event to inquire…never assume!