Top Tips on how to get into Assisted Running
The Wiggle Manchester Half is determined to welcome runners from all backgrounds. As the first in a new series of articles about inclusivity, we look at assisted running with Stephan Couture. Having completed countless miles of running, swimming and cycling as a father and daughter duo, Stephan and Chloe have got a lot of wisdom to share when it comes to training for a new sport. Throughout 11 year old Chloe’s life, Stephan has been determined for his family to be as active as possible and never let her Cerebral Palsy and visual impairment stop her from enjoying the thrill of all three triathlon disciplines, with the help of their specially-designed wheelchairs. The family live by the mantra “life’s too short not to!”
“Every athlete has to start somewhere, just like I did with Chloe,” says Stephan. “Sport has become such a vital part of our lives and I hope that we can help other families benefit from sport too. Here are a few ideas to get you started.”
Pick an event – and start small
Having a goal, like an event that you plan to participate in, is a great way to motivate yourself and stay on track. When you’re looking for your first event make sure you start small and
are realistic. Build yourself up slowly by booking a shorter distance like a 5km race. That way you can finish the race knowing you have enjoyed it, meaning you’re more likely to do another, rather than taking on a challenge that is too much for you and
feeling like giving up. Park Runs are a great way for beginners to meet others and compete within a relaxed environment.
Find something you enjoy
If you aren’t enjoying the sport you’re doing, why not try something else? There are so many activities out there so there’s no need to limit yourself to one activity. You can also adapt activities to fit your ability level. For example, I have had to adapt and think differently about how I do things to make sure Chloe is involved and still enjoys it. This means getting specially adapted wheelchairs, using a kayak to bring her swimming with me and much more.
Get the right equipment
The best product isn’t necessarily the most expensive but it’s worth taking your time and doing your research to find what is the best for you. When it comes to running, you should invest in a pair of trainers from a specialist shop where they can measure your feet properly, analyse your gait and provide you the best shoes for you and your activity.
Find somebody to train with
I’m lucky to be able to train every day and race with my daughter Chloe; she is the best training partner in the world. She’s my inspiration and knowing how much she enjoys getting out and about motivates me to keep going through tough weather and difficult races.
Don’t put pressure on yourself
Remember that whether you’re first or last, everybody gets the same medal and the same t-shirt at the end of the race and you are only competing with yourself. Consistency is important but when you’re training don’t beat yourself up if you miss a session. Also, don’t try to double up training the day after a missed session as you’ll feel even worse.
If I could share just one piece of advice it would be to not let disability hold you back. There are many ways in which you can get involved whilst still feeling safe and comfortable. You can get support from many wonderful charities and organisations who can help you with everything from advice to equipment. Don’t be afraid to ask for help either; everybody was a beginner once and it’s always a great feeling to help somebody out who is new to sports.