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My Incredible Jogging Journey

Tom Briggs, 26, from Ripley, trained for the London Marathon with Alfreton Jog Club joint leader Amy Bradley.

Running your first marathon is a big challenge for anyone but what made his story special was that Tom had a severe visual sight impairment, is registered blind and has a guide dog.

Tom is an Equality Development Officer for Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service ensuring the service is accessible to the wider community. 31 year old Amy is a radio producer from South Normanton.

Amy Bradley and Tom Briggs.

Starting on the treadmill

I waterski and a couple of years ago I decided to do a triathlon to fundraise for the British Disabled Waterski Association.

I'd never really run much. I just got on a treadmill and built up gradually and found I enjoyed it, so I posted on Ripley Running Club's Facebook page asking for a guide. I was surprised when one of the members suggested I should come out and run with them, which is where I met Amy.

Last year I ran the White Peak half marathon for Guide Dogs for the Blind. I was really inspired by the London Marathon so I applied for a charity place with the RNIB. It's a bit scary really realising I've got to get to the point of running 26 miles and raising £1,650 for charity.

Having a goal to give focus

It was hard work. I built it up. I think it definitely helped that I had a good level of fitness by the time I started - for example, I was doing spin classes. It also helped having a goal to focus on and build up to.

I started with trying to jog less than a mile - probably about half a mile - and thought, 'If I can manage that, I can go a bit further'. But I was still struggling so I invested some money in a few sessions with a personal trainer. It was quite expensive but very beneficial. She gave me tips on buying running shoes and how to increase my pace and improve my technique.

Building up the distances was key for Tom.

Running solo

My vision isn't too bad close up. I can see what's in front of me to a degree but there's a lot I can't make out - like steps. It is particularly more difficult to make out people and objects at a distance. That makes crowd situations like busy bank holidays difficult because I don't see other people until I'm up close.

It is possible for me to run by myself when I'm in places I'm familiar with where I'm going. For example in Ripley there's a three mile stretch where there are no roads so I can do a couple of laps on my own which is quite nice for me.

Jogging in fancy dress.

Running in a group

People in Ripley Running Club and Alfreton Jog Club have become more and more conscious of my visual impairment. People often don't know what to do or say, but everyone's very friendly and as people get to know you they become much more confident in offering support.

In a lot of respects it is more difficult for a sighted person than for me. I can appreciate that someone who's sighted will struggle with understanding what I'm able to see and what I can't.

Tethered running

It was kind of brilliant to first do it. I wrote a tweet the first time Amy and I used the tether which sums up what I felt at the time: @Tom_87 Thanks @AmyBradley82 for suggesting running with a tether, made a world of difference.

It was so helpful because it was dark when we went out and I can see very little in the dark. I'd almost got to the point of thinking I was going to have to stop running outside so I'm so grateful for the tether because running on a treadmill is so boring.

Amy tells me when there are lamp posts and steps or cones and even like sometimes you run down roads where there are people's doorsteps sticking out that I definitely wouldn't see.

Join in the jogging

Amy Bradley and Anne Cook lead Alfreton Jog Club sessions, setting off from Alfreton Leisure Centre at 7.15 on a Monday night. The best place to get in touch is via their Facebook page or email alfretonjogclub@gmail.com.

You can also click on the relevant link to find your nearest JOG Derbyshire group or sign up.