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September 2022 Instructor of the Month: Boštjan Tadel

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 a town where I was born (in 1966): Ljubljana, now the capital of Slovenia, and until 1991 a North-Westernmost part of Yugoslavia. It’s exactly half-way from Bologna to Vienna, and also an hour from the Adriatic to the South and the Alps to the North. A great cultural crossroads and perfect for running, too.

My “bread-job”, as they say in German, is writing, and in a nation of 2 million, it means all sorts of writing. I’ve started out in advertising and radioplays, moved on to the stage and journalism, and now I mostly write for TV. If one is reasonably fast and reliable, it adds up to a nice living. And being fast and reliable sounds a bit like running.

How did you start running? 

I was drafted as a sprinter in my early teens and had some success, but in my late teens, I drifted away from sports. I returned in my mid-twenties playing squash and tennis, and then I started running twenty years ago, as it was the most sensible sport to pair with work and family.

And I’ve always enjoyed the thrill of self-developed speed anyway. Now I’ve come to appreciate hard-earned endurance, too.

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

I guess similar to most, including my students: eagerness for speed and lack of patience led to chronic injuries. I never stopped looking for solutions, though, and eventually learned about ChiRunning either in the New York Times or Runners’ World. The few sentences there immediately gave me the impression that this may be the solution to my getting injured.

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

I remember an album cover from the 1970s with a cover designer’s (Ivan Ivezic) work desk photo. It had a plaque which quoted Konstantin Stanislavski: “Love the art in yourself, not yourself in the art.” 

I believe ChiRunning is a gift in a similar vein – you need to find the running in you, and this, possibly the most direct link to our natural selves, gives you the greatest contentment.

What do you think is the biggest misconception of ChiRunning?

I don’t understand the question. Does it imply there are certain misconceptions in ChiRunning ideas, or that there are people who have misconceptions about ChiRunning?

Personally, I don’t think either is the case: I never cease to be impressed by both simplicity and complexity of the concept. 

And in my teaching experience it is also quickly grasped by students, because it is so logical in its didactic progression from the anatomy (posture) to physics (controlled fall) and eventually the mind (relaxation).

What motivates you to run?

I really love to run. But on the few bad days when I would rather stay in, vanity kicks in. Plus I have learned that finishing a run always gives me a sense of a wonderful, if tiny, accomplishment.

What achievements are you most proud of?

The ones I had to work for. Running is among them, as are some pieces I wrote.

What led you to become an instructor?

My hometown and its surroundings are a fantastic place for running. After running for a decade or so, and knowing that cycling is a great tourism driver, I started thinking about hosting running camps. ChiRunning came along at about the same time as a logical extension – however, I haven’t yet had the time to develop it beyond the idea stage.

Yet being an instructor has also improved my own running practice beyond all expectations.

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

Being a running coach is immensely enjoyable, as I haven’t met an unpleasant person in the five years that I’ve been teaching. I guess running brings out the best in us, and ChiRunning as a technique and method really works so great that it’s a fantastic feeling when you are a medium through which people learn about it and feel it and just go “a-ha!”

My being an instructor allowed me to make some great new friends, and to upgrade several older relationships. I hope to practice it more in years to come.

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

That depends on my race schedule: I aim for races in April and October (my hometown Ljubljana Marathon – a very nice one – is on the last Sunday in October), and for the final two months I try to run 5 times a week. After the races I do an 8 weeks focus refresher course (2 weeks each for posture, lower legs, arms, and pelvic rotation) during which I run 2-3 times a week and do either strength training or cycling, and in between I move on to running 4 times a week and start with some light speed work.

Part of this is with my running group which I host twice a week, and my private clients usually come separately.

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

Apart from running I only do regular strength work (I have 2 sets of mostly core-focused exercises). Apart from this I really enjoy the unmissable skiing holiday in winter, and recently I’ve become enthusiastic about SUP. It is really fun, and a rare thing to get me in (luckily mostly on) the water.

Advice for people new to ChiRunning?

Keep returning to the basics. Gradual progress happens in circles, too, just as a body when running is like a wheel.

Short answer! Okay, GO.

Most memorable race: Ljubljana half-marathon when I ran out of fuel about a mile short, then somehow managed to finish on vapors to beat my goal by 6 seconds.

Ideal weather for running: Any, apart from thunder (it happened to me once, and freaked me out mucho).

Focus that currently dominates your running: I had COIVD in May, so I didn’t do my focus refresher properly this spring. It has caught up with me recently, and thus I am back to basics: posture focuses.

Favorite place to run: Any, including treadmill. Plus I enjoy exploring new places while running.

Go-to before race food: Pasta.

Celebratory food after a race: Vegetarian.

Upcoming race/goal: 5 K in late September / under 24 mins.

Run with or without phone/music: Without. Honestly, I can’t imagine doing something so natural and tuning out … nature.

Repeat on your playlist: I don’t run with music, but I am very particular about music, especially classical (don’t get me started during the Instructors Weekend!). I don’t do playlists, as I love to explore, and I don’t do repeat (ditto), though my Slavic soul is exhilarated in particular by Dvorak. And I never tire of Sweet Caroline: life with Chi is good.

Fill in the blank. 

If I didn’t … get into ChiRunning, I might already have stopped running due to chronic Achilles injuries.

I can’t run without… a hat.

My first race was… 10 K in Kranjska gora in the summer. It is an Alpine World Cup resort in winter, and a host to Nordic Skiing World Championship 2023 with neighboring Planica.

My current favorite shoe to run in is… Adidas Light Strike. I’ve been buying it for three years now and I hope I never have to change.

My most difficult run ever was … Marathon in Trieste with 300 metres drop from kilometres 32 to 34. It just devastates your legs…

I’ve run… on the stadium that hosted the finish of the 1896 and 2004 Athens Olympic marathons – an AirB’n’B host told me how to sneak in. (And actually I’ve run in the start area in Marathonas, too – but not in between – yet!)

The longest distance I’ve ran… are several marathons.

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