Disabling Conditions in the Running Community
Running is an expansive, inclusive, and a simple sport. The fact that it involves some of the most basic of body movements is what allows it to be broad and accepting. Practically anyone can run, and those that can’t are still welcome. In the running community we accept and embrace those that love to move. If you move slowly, move in a wheelchair, or move only with the help of others, we want you.
Today we chatted with Achilles International, a group dedicate to helping everyone set and achieve goals and have joy and hope through running. These people understand what it’s all about. We talked with participants about overcoming their struggles, approaching those with disabling conditions, and of course, running.
What is Achilles International?
Achilles International focuses on bringing “hope, inspiration, and the joys of achievement to all.” This is mostly accomplished through their races and group meetups. Those with disabling conditions, be it visual impairments, cancer, amputation, brain injuries, or others, are paired up with volunteers to help achieve their running goals.
The largest Achilles International Chapter is in New York, but today they have over 60 chapters worldwide. Everyone is welcome. Whether you want to become a member or a volunteer, get in contact with them to get involved today, wherever you are in the world.
Approaching Those with Disabilities
We all view ourselves a certain way that others may not see or understand. For better or worse, you never know if you pass someone on the street who has climbed Mount Everest, been to prison, lost a loved one, or won the lottery. Every life is unique and full of anecdotes. Before jumping to conclusions one way or another, ponder that.
When you meet those that have disabling conditions, first and foremost, be their friend. A friend isn’t someone who babies their peers; a friend also isn’t someone that ignores. They are there for you, they push you, they laugh with you and respect you, and they treat you about how they’d like to be treated.
Michael Anderson, the director of the New York chapter at Achiles International, says that they refer to their athletes as an athlete with a disability rather than a disabled athlete. Being conscious of how these athletes want to be viewed can go a long way in building positive relationships.
Running with Disabilities
If you have a disabling condition and can’t see yourself running, or running fast, or being called a runner, hold that thought. There are more opportunities for you than you might know about, and you are stronger than you think.
Take each challenge one step at a time. Walk before you run, stand before you walk, breathe before you stand. It can take some individuals years before they are able to enter a race they have their mind set to, so be patient with yourself.
No matter how unhealthy or healthy you feel, take advantage of your opportunities. Achilles International member Alan says “It’s a roll of the dice how healthy you are. Every day is a gift.” It’s as simple as that. You have the gift of being alive, manage what you can—you can do it.
More on the Running for Real Podcast
In today’s episode we interviewed two members of Achilles International. Mauricio Blandino and Alan Kaufman shared their inspirational stories from being in good physical shape, to having a disabling condition, and finding their way back to sport through Achilles International. They will inspire and motivate you to get out and achieve something more for yourself. Give it a listen.
Listen to the Running for Real Podcast here:
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Thank you SO much!!
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Thank you to Michael, Alan, and Mauricio, I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the show.