My ChiRunning adventure began about 2 and a half years ago with my decision to run a marathon. I was already at a level where I had run several half marathons, however, I had a chronic nagging pain in my hip and down the side of one knee. As soon as I experimented with increasing my mileage it became clear that I wasn’t going to cope with the distance. I looked around for Plan B, which appeared as a Facebook advert for ChiRunning. I bought the book and then the Marathon book. I followed the plan. Strange things started to happen. My plantar facitis (that I’d had for all of my 5 running years) stopped, I stopped wearing my orthotics, then reduced the support of my trainers, then ran in minimalist shoes.
Last year I ran my first marathon – Wrecsam Marathon. Unfortunately, something wasn’t quiet right as I injured a tendon on my foot on my last long long run before the race and for a while thought I wouldn’t be able to run it. I had to return to my support trainers until I healed. I decided to get some help and to do a couple of basic ChiRunning workshops.
Shortly afterwards I did a workshop with Gray Caws the UK Director for ChiRunning in London. It was a revelation. The biggest thing that I got out of the workshop (and it was a big thing) was that I had been trying too hard (I think the books encourage this). I went back to basics, improved my form, started running with my mouth shut, got back to my minimalist running shoes, really began to enjoy running again.
More recently I attended another ChiRunning Build the Foundations workshop, this time in Bury near Manchester with Phil Young. We were videoed running which is used as an observational tool. This was very useful. It showed that I was doing a little twist with my right foot when I lifted it, probably due to a weakness in my right side. I have hopefully corrected this now. Following the workshop, I have also made a slight adjustment in my running cadence and this has been helpful too.
Back to the nasal breathing. I had slipped with this. Unfortunately, in Prestatyn in winter the wind is strong, it comes off the sea and is spikey and full of salt. It makes my eyes and nose run. I find it mostly impossible to nasal breathe. In Bury, even on a slightly snowy febuary afternoon the air was soft. I was encouraged enough to nasal breath as much as I could when I got home, enough anyway for me to work out that my nasal/aerobic running pace was about the same as my aerobic pace on my Garmin. This is a lovely pace to run at and after the workshop I have run at least 80% of my runs at this pace and I’m getting faster.
Finally – arms and shoulders. The workshop helped me to relax my shoulders, although I still need to practice this – it’s a journey not a destination!
My measure of a good workshop, whether for work or play, is that if I can take two things away from it that I remember and that change the way I do things for the better, then it has been worth the money. I took four things away from Phil’s workshop – ankle twisting and how to be aware of what my body is doing, running at my aerobic pace – breathing nasally when I can, cadence, and the way I move my arms. It was definitely worth the money!
Fast forward a few months and I have completed Manchester Marathon.
I achieved my goal for the marathon – to run without injury and accomplished my race strategy of running it at my aerobic pace.
I enjoyed it!
There are a couple of things I need to work on – keeping my cadence up after 10 miles or so, and relaxing my shoulders/keeping my elbows in– so I’ll be looking for an advanced ChiRunning workshop to do before my next marathon. The adventure continues!
Cathy Woods – The Lonely Goats Running Club – North Wales