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Interview with Sinead Kane

When and why did you start your athletic career? I took up running in April 2012 because I was asked to do the women’s mini Marathon for a charity called Childvision (National Education Centre for Blind & Visually Impaired Children). It was a 10k race and I didn’t even know what distance that was because […]

When and why did you start your athletic career?

I took up running in April 2012 because I was asked to do the women’s mini Marathon for a charity called Childvision (National Education Centre for Blind & Visually Impaired Children). It was a 10k race and I didn’t even know what distance that was because I can’t drive due to my sight impairment and so I find it hard to measure distance. I said yes because it was for charity and I am a firm believer in ‘giving back’ to society. Voluntary work and charity work has always been a big part of my life ever since I was 8 years of age.

The reason I run is because it is a confidence booster, a stress reliever, and keeps my body healthy. There is so much room for personal and physical growth when you dedicate yourself to running. The results you achieve are directly related to the work you put in. As a runner, I have entered into a cycle of goal setting, determination, hard work and rewards. This cycle has developed into a healthy competitive spirit, where I am motivated to constantly pursue self-improvement.

When I was a child, due to my disability I was always picked last for sport in school. People always told me that I wasn’t able to run because of my bad sight and so I started believing it. Now I have the self-belief in myself to realise I can run. It doesn’t matter if you’re fast or slow. Challenging yourself is all that matters.

What I have learnt from running so far is that it takes persistence, a very strong mindset, patience, and determination. I have also learnt to expect the unexpected and not to spend time feeling sorry for myself. For example, when I couldn’t find a guide I didn’t stop at one option and feel sorry for myself, I kept going until I found what I wanted.

It takes courage to have limited sight and to go out and run with thousands of people because the risks of being injured during the race are higher. However, what I have learnt from life is that courage has a ripple effect. Every time we choose courage we make those around us feel better and the world a bit braver.

 

Your relationship with your guide runner must require a lot of trust — how did you meet him?

Trust is a key component to a successful sighted guide running experience. After all, the visually impaired runner is relying on the sighted guide to help minimize the risk of running into or tripping over obstacles during a run together.
A running guide for a visually impaired athlete has to be fitter and faster than the competing athlete for safety and security purposes. If the guide is not, then they will not be able to catch the athlete if they fall, or direct them out of the way of an obstacle.
Running with a guide especially when the athlete is trying to record their best time and push themselves requires a great deal of trust between the guide and the runner which can only come from hours of training and getting used to each other.
I have two guide runners – one based in Cork (Denis) who I met in July 2014 and one based in Dublin (John) who I met in October 2014.

I met my Cork guide through a running club and I met my Dublin guide when my friend Aodhagan introduced me to him to get advice. John is a running coach and had previously guided a person with no sight. Hence, I wanted to get advice from him about my first Marathon. On meeting John I think he was taken aback that I had only done 2 months training for the Marathon. John feels that you have to give respect to the Marathon distance and train for about 6-12months. However, given I was doing this Marathon for charity I wasn’t going to let my lack of training – due to no guide – or my 3weeks out of running with a knee injury from allowing me to complete the task. I met John and he could tell I was new to running. I asked him some questions to help myself and my guide runner to get around the Dublin Marathon course safely. My guide for the Dublin Marathon wasn’t John or Denis – it was a different person. My lack of experience about running came out when I asked John – when I first met him – would they cancel the Marathon if it rained.

 

Who or what inspires you in your personal or professional life?

I gain most of my inspiration from regular people who have overcome huge obstacles to create happiness and success in their lives. I get inspired by family, friends, lecturers, great leaders while reading their books and so I take different forms of inspiration from different people each day to keep me motivated and inspired. I think each person has a story to offer so whether it be a world leader or someone who does not have much in life, we can learn life lessons from both.

 

How do you keep going and striving for success?

My mindset – everyday I invest in my mindset by nourishing it. The greatest investment you can make in life is self-investment – and giving yourself psychological capital to help you bounce back from adversity and get you through daily life.
People – I keep the people who believe in me close to hand and I remove myself from people who are toxic to my goals.
Goals – I continually set myself goals. I already have my goals for 2017 mapped out. My goals in 2016 are stepping stones to my goals in 2017.

 

What do you enjoy the most about your speaking career?

During my talks I enjoy interacting with audience. I speak from the heart and tell stories of my life to suit the themes that the audience want to hear. I really enjoy meeting new people, whether it’s children from the local school or whether it is speaking for an international company with senior mangement. I like to tell my story and the lessons I have learnt in life but more importantly I really enjoy the stories that the audience members tell me individually after my presentation. I enjoy learning from others.

I like helping others to learn and grow. I gain satisfaction when I get feedback that I have made a difference in people’s lives. When I receive emails and comments telling me that I gave a person ‘a call to action’ and ‘inspired’ them to stretch themselves then this is very rewarding.

During my talks I sometimes make grown adults cry. I am able to have people crying one minute and laughing the next. I think my story shows people to be resilient and to not give up. I use my personal story as a source of inspiration, hope and encouragement. We all encounter setbacks in life. However, its not the event that defines us its how we react to it. We all have the potential to achieve despite our background, circumstances or odds that may be against us.

 

What do you hope audiences take away from your talks?

I want my audiences to take away hope, energy, determination, belief, and self-confidence.

I hope my audiences will engage in personal leadership and put themselves outside their comfort zone. I hope my audiences choose to be visionary and not blind. I couldn’t choose when I was born legally blind with just 5% vision but I can choose how I live my life. I choose to be visionary and positive and not blind. I choose to have endless vision. I ask my audiences to use their mindsight. To see obstacles as opportunities for learning rather than setbacks. To show people that with perseverance and determination that we can push ourselves beyond limitations that people give us. Most people see the world through their physical eyes. However the lesson I have learnt from life is seeing the world through your ‘mindsight’ and nourishing your mind will help you to bounce back from adversity. Mindsight is far more powerful than eyesight.

Setbacks give us the opportunity to work on our ‘bounce back’ muscles. Your belief muscle – the ability to believe in yourself and endure; your understanding muscle – the ability to see the lessons behind the setback; your take action muscle – the ability to move forward; your sight muscle – having mindsight rather than eyesight is very important. Use your mindsight to see hope and brightness for the future. Staying upright in a world that is full of chaos and upside-down is hard. But using mindsight can help to not focus on the chaos in the world.

 

Read more about Sinead Kane