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ChiRunning Clinic

Monday, October 26, 2009

At the recommendation of FGOETTLER, about 3 weeks ago I checked out a copy of the ChiRunning book from the local library. I was intrigued by what I read there, especially Chapter 3, "The Four Chi-Skills" -- Focusing Your Mind, Body Sensing, Breathing, and Relaxation. However, while Chapter 4, "The Basic Components of Technique," made logical sense to me, trying to apply it to my own running was not entirely successful. In particular, I couldn't get the knack of the body lean that is at the core of the ChiRunning technique. I was more successful with posture (or so I thought). At least with posture I could tell a difference with my running.

I decided that reading about it wasn't going to be enough; I needed some hands-on instruction. So I googled "Austin ChiRunning" and discovered a monthly ChiRunning clinic offered by a local, Certified ChiRunning Instructor. The clinic was yesterday afternoon, and it turned out be money and time very well spent. Karen Smith, the instructor, has worked with Danny Dreyer and been certified as a ChiRunning instructor for five years (since about the time the book was published.). She is also an experienced running coach and a marathon runner herself (20+) marathons. Her experience in all dimensions showed in the clinic, which was well organized, hands on, and to the point.

The first half of the clinic (about 2 hours), covered posture, form--body lean, arms, & legs (wheels)--and body looseners. By far the most time was spent on posture -- aligning the column. We practiced several "form focuses," as she came around and checked each of us. Then she took us into the running store next door to use one of their wardrobe mirrors so that we could each see our body alignment. This was extremely useful.

I learned that I was making two mistakes with my body alignment, one of them a big one! I was aligning my lower body--from the pelvis down--correctly. My abs were in & my pelvis level. But I was engaging my quads, which I had learned to do in Tadasana (Mountain Pose) in yoga. Since the objective of this pose is to align the body as a starting point for the standing postures, I had been trying to apply what I had learned from it to aligning my body when I ran. Much seemed to work. But for ChiRunning, engaging the quads is a no-no. The legs are supposed to be totally relaxed and only the lower abs engaged.

My second mistake was bigger (and the reason I could never get the lean to work). From my waist up, I was actually tilting back slightly. When she positioned my body so that shoulder, hips, ankle were aligned in a straight line vertically, I actually felt as if I were leaning slightly forward. But when I turned my head to view myself in the mirror, I could see that my body was aligned and that when I stood "up straight," it wasn't. A weird feeling.

The second half of the clinic was spent outside, practicing what had been covered in the first half. She had us work on "gears" and "wheels," that is, controlling speed by varying the amount of lean and by lifting our heels behind us and extending our stride backwards. I turned out to be fairly good at "gear 3," much to my surprise. When she told us to lean way forward, I suddenly took off and raced ahead of everyone else.

We also covered cadence and running up and down hills. In her opinion, cadence was an "advanced" topic and not really necessary to worry about at first. Focusing on posture and form was the most important to begin with. But she did get out her metronome, set first to 86 and then to 90 beats, and we ran a bit to the metronome. I found the cadence pretty close to what I normally run. Or at least close enough that it wasn't difficult to keep up with it.

In the last part of the clinic, she videotaped each of us running. Very, very interesting and useful. When I watched myself, it was obvious that, at least when running in "gear 1," I still had a tendency to fight the lean and to straighten up as I run. And when I did that, I was landing with my foot slightly ahead of my center of gravity. But when I ran fast, I was leaning forward quite well, and my heels were coming up almost to my butt behind me.

Since I ran 14 miles yesterday, I stayed off my feet today. But I am itching to practice all of this tomorrow. I loved that "gear 3"!

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ACORALSEA 10/27/2009 12:46PM

    Two things I'd like to add:

1) I've trained with Jeff Galloway, and he really doesn't like ChiRunning form because of the forward lean, preferring to keep us all upright and perpendicular to the terrain/road.

2) I've trained in ChiRunning, and my coach doesn't like the Galloway method for the upright and perpendicular form.

I look at it this way: I think you can successfully combine both methods. I like the Galloway run/walk method, and these old bones are thankful. I like the ChiRunning lean because it's less stress on my knees, plus the CR form helps me maintain better running posture.

About the metronome: I also learned to only use it occasionally, otherwise, one could become too dependent upon it. Learn to listen to your own rhythm. For example, I maintain a cadence according to my breathing, or correct my breathing to sync with my cadence (if that makes any sense to you). I've never been much of one to run plugged into a device, preferring to "meditate" on my feet, lol! But, my cadence is pretty high, too (for me, 86 is a "shuffle"). I think it's a matter of what you train yourself to do, and I'm always trying to get just a little more foot turnover. I'm not a heel-striker, but land mid-foot, keep my feel low to the ground, and try to stay as loose as possible (not easy for me).

Tai Chi is what turned me on to ChiRunning...funny how that works.

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FREDI59 10/27/2009 10:34AM

    @SOULCOLLAGESUE wrote "Galloway says not to worry about form"

Here is what I remember from Galloway's book:
1. relaxed and balanced "good" posture
2. don't bounce, stay low to the ground
3. shorten your stride
4. avoid heel strike
5. increase your turnover rate / cadence

(here is an article on the subject: http://www.pccoach.com/newsletters/
Dec03/gall_form.htm)

App
ears to me that everything Galloway says about form (except for "the lean") is 100% consistent with Chi Running principles.
The "Chi" book however goes into much more detail and provides powerful visualizations that help me to improve my form while I am running - e.g. have you ever tried to imagine someone pulling you up from the top of your head - that straightens out your posture almost automatically. Or the bungee cord attached to your chest that pulls you forward, or the road coming at you like a treadmill and "pulling" your legs out behind you.
Every time I focus my mind on one of these images, my form adjusts almost by itself.



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FREDI59 10/27/2009 9:31AM

    CATHERINEW3 wrote "One thing she told us was not to try to time your steps with the metronome but rather your arm swing. Take the right elbow back on each beat. Your feet will naturally speed up if your arm swing speeds up. And its easier to swing your arms faster to match the metronome. Seemed to work."

--

That's my experience too - since my metronome is always a little on the fast side, I constantly have to "push" my cadence a little.
I found it easiest to adjust my breathing first - e.g. Inhale 1 - 2 - exhale 1 - 2 - 3 - then support my breathing with my arms kicking back in the rhythm of the metronome. It's fascinating how my legs always seem to follow the rhythm of my arms.

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SKISINCO 10/27/2009 8:22AM

    Wow, sounds like you will carry the lessons you learned from here forward...aha moment indeed.

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LAURIE5658 10/27/2009 8:21AM

    I just looked online and of course...the closest instructors are in Chicago. Thank you, Catherine, for a very interesting read on a very interesting concept.

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ALOHAEV1 10/27/2009 8:10AM

    I saw that book at the store the other day, have it on my buy list in Nov, never knew anyone who did this! I'd think it would work with walking, since Doc says you run, you'll hurt and you'll need to find a new Doc. And I have him broken in so don't want to find a new Ortho.
Stopped doing taichi and have no idea why, it's always been fun to do.
So thanks for turning the light bulb on and ALSO all the great info, great read.
Kelly

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SOULCOLLAGESUE 10/27/2009 12:27AM

    Catherine, I've been using ChiRunning (based on my knowledge of yoga) blended with Galloway since the book came out. You've convinced me to look for a clinic. Even though Galloway says not to worry about form, a combination of attention to form and the lean effortlessly increases my speed, as well as flow. I linked Danny's advice on shin splints under our Galloway team links. I'm glad to know there are other Sparkers who are experiencing the benefits of ChiRunning. Conversely, it's interesting that few on the ChiRunning team think the two methods complement one another.

Excellent blog. Thank you.

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FREDI59 10/27/2009 12:14AM

    So, now you talked me into taking one of these clinics ...
The part I found most helpful so far is the increase in awareness what the parts of the body are doing when I'm running - I never spent much time thinking about that, I simply ran, and bore the pain of wrong posture.
Chi running is a fascinating approach to running and I'm sure I'm scratching just the surface of it.

I was a little surprised that a cadence of 86-90 seems natural to you. I'm running with a metronome now that is set to 170 (i.e. 85 cadence) - and this is still always a little faster than my feet want to move - so I'm not sure if heavier/longer legs should move a little slower - or if I'm just not there yet. I used to run at around 75 and my legs are definitely much more relaxed at the higher turnover rate - and it's much easier on my knees because it is almost impossible to heel-strike at such a fast rate. I'm looking forward to your next blog on the subject.

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Marathon Training Journal: Week 14(3)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Total Week 12: 23 miles
Total Week 13: 17 miles
Total Week 14: 23 miles

LT=Less Than

21 Oct: Hill Run (PLAN)
Objective: Run some steep hills
Distance: 2-3 miles
Interval: 2/:30
Pace: No target
Ave (Max) HR: LT 146(LT 155)

21 Oct: ACTUAL
Distance: 3 miles
Interval: 2/:30
Ave Pace(HR): 12:44(131)
Splits: 13:05/12:20/12:47
Ave(Max) HR: 136(147)/ 130(154)/ 126(147)

Notes: Ran the last half of this one in the rain. Legs had not fully recovered from previous day's strength training session, in particular, from the split squats with weights. My IT band, just below the hip, complained a bit on the hills, so I took it pretty slowly.

23 Oct: Recovery Run (PLAN)
Objective: Run at long slow pace to build endurance
Distance: 4-6 miles
Interval: 2/:30
Pace: 11:43 or slower
Average(Max) HR: LT 133(LT 146)

23 Oct: ACTUAL
Temp: 55-64 (69-55% humidity)
Distance: 6 miles
Interval: 2/:30
Ave Pace(HR): 10:40(141)
Splits: 10:40/10:48/10:18/10:49/10:36/10:49
Ave(Max) HR: 134(144)/ 136(144)/ 143(155)/ 143(154)/ 147(160)/ 142(152)

Notes: Legs fully recovered. This run felt easy, although stats show it turned into a tempo run.

25 Oct: Long, slow run with Marathon Group (PLAN)
Objective: Run at long slow pace to build endurance
Distance: 14 miles
Interval: 2/1
Pace: 11:43 or slower
Average(Max) HR: LT 133(LT 146)

25 Oct: ACTUAL
Distance: 14 miles
Interval: 2/1
Ave Pace(HR): 12:09(122)
Splits: 12:18/ 12:19/ 12:06/ 12:15/ 12:10/ 11:46/ 11:58/ 12:27/ 11:53/ 12:16/ 11:36/ 12:05/ 12:35/ 12:19
Ave(Max) HR: 107(127)/ 119(135)/ 120(135)/ 119(131)/ 123(137)/ 121(140)/ 121(140)/ 120(134)/ 119(134)/ 125(146)/ 126(146)/ 127(142)/ 130(142)/ 131(148)

Notes: Reviewing the pace and HR stats, I am encouraged by evidence of my improving physical conditioning and endurance. The split for mile 14 was exactly the same as the split for mile 1! And my average HR was 119 in mile 9! My HR did start to climb a bit at the end, but only slightly. My legs are a little stiff tonight, but not too bad. Part of that is because I attended a ChiRunning clinic this afternoon during which I did some additional running. I'll be interested to see how my legs feel in the morning.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LAURIE5658 11/7/2009 10:23AM

    Hey Catherine! First of all...GREAT JOB!!!! Now, with your suggestion I reset my awesomely PINK Gymboss to 2/:30 for 20 cycles last night. I am walking today but will be running with the new 2/:30 intervals tomorrow. i cannot believe how much I love my Gymboss!!!

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SKISINCO 10/26/2009 8:28AM

    Congrats on your improved physical condition and endurance, hope your legs are feeling well rested today.

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Marathon Training Journal: Week 14(1-2)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Total Week 12: 23 miles
Total Week 13: 17 miles
Total Week 14: 23 miles

LT=Less Than

21 Oct: Hill Run (PLAN)
Objective: Run some steep hills
Distance: 2-3 miles
Interval: 2/:30
Pace: No target
Ave (Max) HR: LT 146(LT 155)

21 Oct: ACTUAL
Distance: 3 miles
Interval: 2/:30
Ave Pace(HR): 12:44(131)
Splits: 13:05/12:20/12:47
Ave(Max) HR: 136(147)/ 130(154)/ 126(147)

Notes: Ran the last half of this one in the rain. Legs had not fully recovered from previous day's strength training session, in particular, from the split squats with weights. My IT band, just below the hip, complained a bit on the hills, so I took it pretty slowly.

23 Oct: Recovery Run (PLAN)
Objective: Run at long slow pace to build endurance
Distance: 4-6 miles
Interval: 2/:30
Pace: 11:43 or slower
Average(Max) HR: LT 133(LT 146)

23 Oct: ACTUAL
Temp: 55-64 (69-55% humidity)
Distance: 6 miles
Interval: 2/:30
Ave Pace(HR): 10:40(141)
Splits: 10:40/10:48/10:18/10:49/10:36/10:49
Ave(Max) HR: 134(144)/ 136(144)/ 143(155)/ 143(154)/ 147(160)/ 142(152)

Notes: Legs fully recovered. This run felt easy, although stats show it turned into a tempo run.

25 Oct: Long, slow run with Marathon Group (PLAN)
Objective: Run at long slow pace to build endurance
Distance: 14 miles
Interval: 2/1
Pace: 11:43 or slower
Average(Max) HR: LT 133(LT 146)

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JEM0622 10/23/2009 7:21PM

    You are doing great! Keep it up! ~Julie

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Marathon Training Journal: Week 13(4)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Total Week 11: 14 miles
Total Week 12: 23 miles
Total Week 13: 17 miles

LT=Less Than

14 Oct: Hill Run (PLAN)
Objective: Run some steep hills
Distance: 2 miles
Interval: 2/1
Pace: No target
Ave (Max) HR: LT 146(LT 155)

14 Oct: ACTUAL
Temp: 82 (80% humidity)
Distance: 2 miles
Interval: 5/1
Ave Pace(HR): 12:36(134)
Splits: 12:21/12:51
Ave(Max) HR: 132(146)/ 135(149)

Notes: First mile was continuously uphill for 3/4 of a mile. The second mile was up and down with some fairly steep inclines. I was pleased with both my pace and HR.

15 Oct: Recovery Run (PLAN)
Objective: Run at long slow pace to build endurance
Distance: 5 miles
Interval: 2/1
Pace: 11:43 or slower
Average(Max) HR: LT 133(LT 146)

15 Oct: ACTUAL
Distance: 5 miles
Intervals: 2/:30
Ave Pace(HR): 11:47(122)
Splits: 11:44/11:53/11:47/11:45/11:46
Ave(Max) HR: 116(128)/ 121(131)/ 125(135)/ 126(136)/ 123(135)

Notes: I was very pleased to see my HR stay so low. The run felt very easy. I didn't push it.

16 Oct: Recovery Run (PLAN)
Objective: Run at long slow pace to build endurance
Distance: 5 miles
Interval: 2/1
Pace: 11:43 or slower
Average(Max) HR: LT 133(LT 146)

16 Oct: ACTUAL
Temp: 68 (57% humidity)
Distance: 4 miles
Interval: 2:30/1
Ave Pace(HR): 11:14(128)
Splits: 12:02/10:40/10:46/11:27
Ave(Max) HR: 119(130)/ 131(148)/ 135(148)/ 129(145)

Notes: I got a little bit of a late start this evening, so only did 4 miles. I was a little tired today and a tiny bit stiff. Running 3 days in a row is not my best strategy. I ran very easy on mile 1 and was feeling better about midway through mile 2. Comparing HR data from yesterday's & today's runs, I find it interesting that my max HR was so much lower yesterday, even though my walk breaks were half as long. Of course, pace was slower yesterday.

18 Oct: IBM Uptown Classic (Race)
Objective: Run at marathon pace
Distance: 10K
Interval: 3/1
Pace: 10:39
Ave (Max) HR: LT 146(LT 155)

18 Oct: ACTUAL
Temp: 60
Distance: 6.29 miles
Interval: 2/:30
Ave Pace(HR): 9:42(153)
Splits: 9:41/9:42/9:33/9:29/10:22/9:59/7:54 (.29 miles)
Ave(Max) HR: 142(154)/ 150(160)/ 154(162)/ /153(160)/ 158(168)/ 156(165)/ 165(170)

Notes: I didn't have problems taking my scheduled walk breaks, but I did have problems slowing the run segments down, that is, until I ran up a very steep hill at the beginning of mile 5. Up until then, I felt really good and was actually increasing the pace of each mile. Had I walked up that hill (or at least not pushed it), I probably would have finished under 60 minutes. Running up the hill did really slow me down for a mile, but I was starting to recover on mile 6 and ran the last bit to the finish line pretty well. Even though I ran this race faster than I had planned, I was pleased over all with how good it felt and really pretty easy. I did not feel wiped out at the end. I was pleased to see that my HR stayed pretty consistent through miles 1-4 until the hill. I think my max HR must be higher than I've estimated (which is already higher than the formula gives me) because I did not end the race totally huffing and puffing, even though my Garmin says my HR was 170.

My Heart Rate reserve: 122
My Training Zones
Zone 1 (50-60% of HR reserve): 109 - 121
Zone 2 (60-70% of HR reserve): 121 - 133
Zone 3 (70-80% of HR reserve): 133 - 146
Zone 4 (80-90% of HR reserve): 146 - 158
Zone 5 (90-100% of HR reserve): 158 - 170

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GERBALMAMMA 10/22/2009 9:40PM

    THese stats are so very impressive. I blew off my run walk intervals for the Denver ING Marathon Relay and struggled the whole way. You inspire me.

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IBM Uptown Classic 10K

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Now that our long runs have exceeded 10 miles, my Marathon group schedule is increasing the long run by 2 miles every 2 weeks and running a 5 mile long run on the intervening week. Since this was a "short" week for my group (in between a 12 mile run last week and a 14 mile run next week), I decided it would be fun to participate in a 10K race, the IBM Uptown Classic. My plan was to treat this strictly as a training run and not really run all out. I also wanted to start testing some pre-race strategies so that I would be an old hand at this by the time I get to my Marathon in February.

On the whole, I was pleased with the way things went and I certainly did have fun.

One of the things I have been thinking about a lot is the best way to manage hydration. Not just hydrating during the race, but avoiding the need to stop during the race to eliminate some of that hydration. I've noticed with my 10 and 12 mile runs that if you aren't careful with your pre-run timing of food and drink, you can definitely find yourself glad you're stopping at 10 or 12 miles and not going for 26.2. So I decided this morning that I would get up 3 hours before the race started, drink my one cup of coffee (and no other liquid) immediately upon rising, and then eat one Luna bar for some nutrition instead of my usual oatmeal + soymilk. We got to the race site 1 hour before the race. I warmed up by jogging for about a half mile. Then turned my attention to the long row of pink port-a-potties. Across from the pink row was a (shorter) blue row. There was already a line of men queuing up but no line for the women (when does that ever happen)! I convinced my husband that we shouldn't wait. We then ran some more to finish warming up, and when we returned, there were long lines on both sides (he owes me!) During the race, I only drank a mouthful at water stops. This hydration strategy certainly worked for 6 miles. I'm going to do the same for my 14 miler next week.

Next question was what to wear. Temperature was going to be around 52 degrees at 7am, but I knew that once the sun came up, it would quickly warm up and, in fact, at 8am race start it was 60. So far, the coolest I'd run in had been 57 last weekend. I wore my normal shorts and sleeveless singlet and was quite comfortable. However, we didn't stand around for an hour before starting the run. I was pretty sure that the sleeveless singlet wouldn't be enough for standing around at 52 degrees, although I thought that a good warmup strategy might make this more feasible. However, after some consideration I decided to wear shorts but a long-sleeved UnderArmor coldgear top. I was certainly comfortable before the race (especially after I warmed up). Around mile 3, I was mildly wishing I was wearing my singlet, but it wasn't too bad. But I have decided in the future to dress for race temperature and to just keep moving before the race starts. A long-sleeved heatgear top might also be a good compromise.

I have seen comments from other Galloway runners about the difficulty of sticking to their run/walk intervals early in the race when the crowd is streaming past them. I did not have a problem keeping to my intervals, except for a couple of times when I missed the beep because of the extremely loud music being played at several points along the way. I thought a Gymboss could be heard over anything, but note to self: turn on the vibration as a backup. What I did have trouble doing was keeping to my planned pace. I found myself running with the runners around me, which was about 1 minute (or more) faster per mile than I had planned. As it turned out, that faster pace was fine for a 10K. I was surprised at how easy it felt. Miles 1-4 were very consistent, both pace and HR, and I felt very strong. There was a short, but very steep, hill at the beginning of Mile 5 which I ran all the way up. That definitely slowed me down on the next mile. Mile 6 was a bit faster, but not as fast as Miles 1-4. Should have been smarter about that hill.

I am pleased with my stats for the race. However, I definitely need to work on staying on my own pace and not being carried away by the crowd.

Interesting note: my Garmin clocked the distance at 6.29 miles.

Overall finish: 875
4th in Age Group
Overall pace: 9:50 /mi (chip) 9:42 /mi (Garmin)
Finish time: 1:01:02
Interval: Run 2 min/ Walk 30 sec
Splits: 9:41 / 9:42 / 9:33 / 9:29 / 10:22 / 9:59 / 7:54 (.29 miles)
Ave(Max) HR: 142(154)/ 150(160)/ 154(162)/ /153(160)/ 158(168)/ 156(165)/ 165(170)
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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

PRINCESSNURSE 10/19/2009 5:02AM

    Wow what a great race report-I felt like I was there! I am glad you had a great experience, and your time is impressive too!

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LAURIE5658 10/18/2009 9:10PM

    Catherine, you DID learn quite a bit from running this race as you had hoped you would. This will give you a great idea on any tweaking you may want to do. You ran a fabulous race and I congratulate you, my friend!! You are such an inspriation to me and I truly do watch and learn from you. THANK YOU!

RUN BABY RUN

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VEENAS1 10/18/2009 8:16PM

    Congrats Catherine. You are really amazing in running and have made so much process. I wish you the best in all your races.
Have a great week

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PATTIDGN 10/18/2009 7:55PM

    so proud of you. You made a plan and stuck to it and learned from this one. love to see the progress that you have made. Keep Up The Good Work!!!

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SKISINCO 10/18/2009 7:44PM

    Congratulations! Sounds like you made some great observations that you can adjust for the next one. Love reading your blogs and seeing your progress! Have a happy, healthy week!

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