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June 2022 Instructor of the Month: Margaret Mullenix

Tell us a little about you. Where you live, what your background is. What (if) you do in addition to being a Certified Instructor.

I live in Mt. Prospect, Illinois, a suburb northwest of Chicago. I’ve been working as a fitness instructor since 2009. Although I have been a life-long runner I changed my career path after completing a 18 month battle to overcome breast cancer. After all the months of  chemo, surgeries and radiation I felt called to do something to help others live strong and healthy lives.

In addition to being a ChiRunning instructor I also teach TRX classes, yoga, and Deep Water Running. Outside of fitness, I do clinical billing for a mental health practice.

How did you start running? 

My running career officially started in high school. In middle school, I would run laps around the block with my neighborhood friends to earn points for the President’s Physical Fitness Badge. I joined the track team my sophomore year of high school and naturally decided that my event was the 2 mile. In college, I moved up to the longer events, the 5,000 and 10,000 meters.

When and how did ChiRunning come into your life? (The short story)

I read about ChiRunning in a running magazine around the time the book first came out. I bought the ChiRunning book and tried to implement the lessons on my own. In 2019 I was able to meet Danny and booked a session with him prior to a trail race. He suggested I become a ChiRunning instructor.

In what ways has Chi changed your perception of and success in running?

I love that running can be a lifelong activity!  I try to implement the Chi focuses into not only my running but my daily life.

What do you think is the biggest misconception of ChiRunning?

For many runners their first goal is to run fast. They are used to pounding the pavement and trying to set a PR or personal record on every run. ChiRunning is more of a mindful practice, but that doesn’t mean you can’t run fast as a ChiRunner.

What motivates you to run?

I just enjoy it! I use my runs as meditation when I run alone, and it’s also a great way to socialize with friends.

What achievements are you most proud of?

Throughout my running career, especially when I was younger, there were times when I’ve had to go deep into the well to finish strong. Now as an older runner I’m proud of the commitment it takes to follow a training plan and get to the starting line healthy and ready to do my best.

What led you to become an instructor?

Danny Dryer encouraged me to become an instructor.

Why do you enjoy being an instructor, and how has it affected your life?  

It’s great to see people find their “Ah-Ha” moment and I am glad that I can help them find it.

What does your average week look like, run-wise?

Since I compete in triathlons I typically run 3-5 times a week. During the season that would be a longer run, which I like to do on trails, a track session, and mostly easy runs. Once a week I do a pool run. Water has great properties and I can practice my ChiRunning in the pool too.

What other forms of exercise do you practice to complement ChiRunning?

I swim, practice yoga and TRX training. I also try to meditate, often that happens when I run. I also enjoy walking and hiking.

Advice for people new to ChiRunning?

Give it a chance. It takes time to implement the ChiRunning focuses so don’t expect to be perfect on the first day. It’s a process and we are always learning and listening to our bodies.

Short answer! Okay, GO.

Most memorable race:I did a trail race in the pouring rain. It was so muddy and slippery (everyone fell a few times) but we were laughing the whole time.

Ideal weather for running:As long as the windchill isn’t below -10 degrees and it’s not icy or thunderstorming it’s a good day to run (within reason).

Focus that currently dominates your running:I’m working on my cadence and letting my heels float up behind me.

Favorite place to run: Trails

Go-to before race food: Almond butter and banana sandwich.

Celebratory food after a race: Acai bowls.

Upcoming race/goal: I’m planning to run a 50K on my birthday to honor my mother who passed away 30 years ago.

Run with or without phone/music:Both. Although I train without music (it’s not allowed in triathlons), but I do enjoy listening to a book or podcast on a long run.

Repeat on your playlist:According to Spotify one of my most listened to songs is “See the World” by Brett Dennon.

Fill in the blank. 

If I didn’t …Run I would’ve missed out on meeting so many great people.

I can’t run without…Since I started ChiRunning it’s my metronome.

My first race was… Aside from track meets, my first road race was the WLS Run for the Zoo. It was a 8.9 mile race (the station was 890 AM) and I was probably 14 or 15 years old. I don’t remember how I finished but it was a lot of fun.

My current favorite shoe to run in is…Altra’s. I have the Lone Peaks for trails and the Paradigm 6 for my longer runs.

My most difficult run ever was …My first race back after my father passed away. I was a junior in college and was away from home during a challenging time for my family.

I’ve run…A 24 hour relay, twice, when I was in high school. That was a lot of fun, we had a tent city in the middle of the track and ran the baton around the track switching every mile.

The longest distance I’ve ran…18 miles.

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