Getting My Chi On


So I have this icky sinus thing going on this weekend and I’m ready for it to get the heck out of me.  I virtually never get sick and I’m pretty lucky to have gotten off so easily with this minor bug. 

Yesterday, though, I had zero energy. Yoga was out.  I hate sniffling through class and the thought of bending forward in any way was enough to make my head explode. I went up to Illinois for a visitation and a funeral within Sean’s family, which was so sad, but very respectfully arranged.  Being around so many people, shaking hands and trying to be enthusiastic (gosh, I’m sorry to be a germ-spreader) left me completely wiped out, but I was happy to at least be with Sean, who got me a cheese-free veggie pizza, some Sudafed, and let me lay in bed all evening. That’s a good fiancé. 

Anyway, I could probably manage a fairly decent run today, but I’m resting instead. Better to miss one run and feel better than to miss a whole week! Tonight I’m sticking to minty green tea, Doctor Who, and stalking the Pinterest wedding boards.  And for the record, I totally credit my strong immune system (aside from this slip up) to my healthy lifestyle.  Be good to your body and it will do the same for you!

I may not be running today, but at least I’m still riding the high of the training half marathon I ran on Saturday.  THE BEST EVER.

During this training, I’ve been guided by a really brilliant book called ChiMarathon, which is part of a group including ChiWalking and ChiRunning.  The whole purpose of this “chi” theory is that, if you revamp you running form and properly engage your mind, you can run faster, more happily, and injury-free.  Given that I struggled with lots of tendinitis after the Go!St.Louis Half Marathon in April, learning how to run more efficiently is really important for the full marathon. I really like this mind-body approach.  It’s all Zen and stuff.

The ChiMarathon program basically breaks-down and re-trains every bit of your running form while simultaneously teaching mental focuses to make the psychological bit of long distance running less of a hindrance. The plan provides “focuses” to think about during runs, which eventually become habit.

I’ve had several focuses programmed into my form for a while now:

Running at 180 footfalls per minute: This is way faster than the steps I used to take. I use a metronome throughout runs to make sure my strides aren’t too long.

– Keeping my arms parallel to my body: Moving your arms across your body conflicts with the direction your aiming to go.  I like to pretend my arms are on train tracks – they can only swing directly forward and back.

– Relaxing my lower legs: I still have trouble with this one sometimes, but whenever I start to feel pain and tightness in my calves, I know I need to loosen up.

– Sensing which "gear" I’m in.  This principal is similar to Perceived Rate of Exertion (PRE).  Gear 1 is the easiest, moving up to Gear 4.  When I run, I’m always aware of in which gear I need to be running.

– The "lean."  This is another one that’s a constant project, and it’s one of the most crucial parts of the program. Here’s a good picture:

If you’ve ever heard of the Tarahumara, they definitely use the lean when they run.  (If you haven’t heard of them, let’s just say that these guys can regularly run more than 50 miles a day in leather sandals just because. And yes, it’s okay to hate them just a little bit).

There are also a lot of things I haven’t mastered, including some breathing techniques, pelvic rotation (I look like an idiot when I try to do this), and some of the mental techniques. 

Watching Mulan while running on the treadmill probably doesn’t qualify as a good mental technique.  I think that’s what you call avoidance.

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One of the hardest focuses for me has relaxing my shoulders and upper back.  I’m so tense!  And it seems like, the harder I try to relax, the tighter I get. 

I don’t know what happened on Saturday, but every thing was just perfect.  13.1 miles practically pain free, in good spirits, and my shoulders and back were so relaxed! I looked like a lunatic, all smiles as I launched up my hilly course.  All this training is really paying off and I love it.

That is all.

Also, I have new shoes (same style as my old ones, different color) and they rock.

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One thought on “Getting My Chi On

  1. I am reading a book about the Tarahumara tribe right now! They are ridiculous and so focused. I don’t know how they do it. Running and drinking is all they do everyday.

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