I feel that ChiRunning has kept me doing one of the things that makes me happiest – running. I started back to running as a regular habit 4 years ago, and while digging into every possible conditioning program and nutritional regimen. There was little available on running technique.
I think after being a high school runner and active person I took the ability to run for granted and felt that whatever I knew had gotten me this far and would probably be okay. When I began training for the Big Sur Marathon in 2007, I racked up the mileage for the first time in my life and found out what sore legs were all about. Thrilled by completing a race and wanted to get right back to another marathon that autumn, I allowed for a bit of rest and then plunged right back into an ambitious training cycle. A month before my second marathon I felt better than I ever had from more than a year of running and self care, yet I could feel the wheels starting to come off. The problem was my achilles tendon, with instability and creaking, along with pain after long runs.
Fear is a pretty good motivator and I carefully completed my race, where I qualified for Boston and admitted that I was fully hooked on long distance events. But how was I going to improve, or simply survive my first Boston attempt with this achilles tendon that was quickly becoming chronic? I again dug deep into the research and did not have to look too far this time to find ChiRunning. I guess the saying is true that when the student is ready the teacher arrives.
Learning the Chi techniques, adjusting my daily posture and seeking to strengthen supportive muscles became the focus for me, and running quickly turned to a practice. I was using great advice and new perspectives in order to problem solve my running. No surprise that by the time April rolled around I was feeling a lot better, and I was better in different ways. I ran my same time (within a few seconds) that I ran to qualify for Boston – in an 18 MPH headwind that day! I felt strong and was able to walk the mile to my hotel afterwards and have been without injury ever since.
I have been able to use the Chi methods for a number of positive benefits in the past few years. I get more mileage out of my shoes now than ever before and I wear less of a shoe as well. I also get more mileage out of my body. Last June I completed a 41 mile trail race in West Virginia for my first ultra, and, without the lightness of the Chi posture and focus of being present and centered, I don’t think I would have enjoyed it. Not only was it an epic day but I was a “needle in cotton” afterwards, with no pain, and feeling like I could run the next day. I recall the days after a big race when I had to walk down the steps backwards. And, now I go for an easy run the day after a race.
I feel as though I am working less and getting more; being more aware of the work I do which is a win-win scenario. I am using this enjoyment to train for a 50-mile race in the Autumn of 2011, and I no longer feel impatient that I do not have a more imminent race to train for.
Running for me now gets better by the day, by the form focus, and I am here in the Now, rather than the next project. This might be the greatest gift of the Chi technique – although I am also grateful to have been spared chronic injury by getting off my heels.