I started parkrun around three years ago and only did two runs with the intentions of keeping fit and losing weight but hated the attempts as I found running with hearing aids difficult. I would get all sweaty and the hearing aids would conk out and would need drying out (several days!). I was also shy and didn’t really know what to say to hearing people. I had no idea about running and it all felt alien to me.
I then met someone (hearing) in September 2016 who is rather a parkrun fan. He encouraged me to give his local parkrun a go and to talk to people after the event which was actually excruciatingly hard. I decided to persevere and in time got to know his parkrun community, which was actually very nice!
I then decided to give my home parkrun another go and rather enjoyed it. In time, I got to know the parkrun ethos.I managed to keep a previous pair of hearing aids when they were updated which I then would use for running so I could save my best ones for work or when I am with hearing people. This meant I could relax during a social run knowing I had a back up pair. On lone runs, I still run without my aids.
In time I started to enjoy notching up my attendance and getting PBs! I was getting faster and widening my circle of running friends. I also started to run socially and joined up a local shop called Fitstuff in Guildford which organise Friday morning social runs. Lynsey who leads this was so friendly and we did intervals, hills and tempos runs. I learnt that I actually do enjoy running with others. Wonderful local woods were explored along with river path runs.
I am no speed queen at parkrun yet but love Saturday mornings – it is simply parkrunday!
There was a dearth of Deaf or hard of hearing people at parkrun and I really wanted to share my passion and the main barrier at parkrun was accessing the briefings. I attended a Christmas Eve 2016 parkrun with two deaf friends and decided there and then to say I would sign the briefings. Why not? But to my utter horror, the RD and his group had a song planned before the start and I quickly had to think on my feet & translate the song – it was even more difficult due to twists to the usual carol. See the Nonsuch parkrun Facebook page for the video!
I then knew that I rather enjoyed translating the briefings although I prefer it when the RDs show me written notes if they are adding something such as names and congratulations etc so I can fingerspell the names correctly. I had marshalled a couple of times then it became that translating the briefings would also be counted being as a volunteer. Brilliant! Access for Deaf people and get volunteer points at the same time.
I enjoy being a parkrun tourist visiting different places at 9am on Saturdays so I would put a notice out to say where I would be going or plan to go with deaf people so they would start their parkrun journey.
If you have not yet attended parkrun, I would say give it a try! It is absolutely such a great way to start your weekends – run and meet lovely people. You can walk or run. It does not matter if you are slow or fast. It does take a while to understand so perseverance is key so just keep going each week.
Tip 1 – check out the map of the route on the website so you can visualise the course. That takes away a lot of the stress in communication at the start.
Tip 2 – Do approach the RD (Run Director) and explain you have a hearing loss/ Deaf. Either they learn to make it accessible for and WITH you or already know of a communication means. This can be noticeboards, signer or a person you can lipread. You can ask them to make it clear 1,2,3 & go so you can set off at the same time as the others.
Tip 3 – check out on parkrun for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Facebook page if there will be some access such as a signer at a certain location. Failing this, the website does give you a lot of information.
Give it a go! I so love parkrun and you will too.
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We’d like to remind all parkrunners this week of our free Run Pack giveaway when you spend £75 on ASICS footwear – available until 30 September. If you need some more running shoes (and don’t we all deserve some new ones for autumn?) then now is the time to treat yourself! The Run Packs…