Way back at the beginning of our blog, I wrote about Chi Running. Chi Running is a style of running that touts itself as “injury free.” For many, the idea of running without any injuries at all is a wishful thinking.
I was doing pretty well for awhile. I’d incorporated some of the techniques of chi running, like the midfoot strike, slight forward lean, and keeping a well-aligned “column.” All of this changed my running and over time it’s come to be something I really love.
I’ve been training for the Around the Bay 30K on March 29th. It’s a race with a venerable history — first run three years before the first Boston Marathon! It’s a challenging course and many say that if you can do ATB the you can do a marathon (I guess it depends on the marathon). There’s usually a killer hill at the end, even more severe than Boston’s Heartbreak Hill. This year, road construction means we’re detouring past the brutal hill.
Back in November I joined a clinic to train for the race. We do hills on Wednesdays, tempo runs on Thursdays, and LSDs (Long Slow Distance runs) on Sundays.
The distance runs have slowly, and then more quickly, built distance. Back in November 13K seemed long. But a few weeks ago, we did 23K, up from 19K the week before that.
And my knee. My poor knee. About 18K into the 23, I felt a twinge on the outside of my knee. For the last little bit of the run, it just got worse and worse. And I couldn’t warm up my hands no matter what I did. And my feet got wet. But I made it. Not just that, I added an extra block to the route because with the store in sight we were still short of our 23 by 0.5K.
The next Sunday, we went back down to 19K and again, the knee acted up. And finally, I actually scaled back the week after that, running what should have been an easy 14K with Anita (my Scotiabank half marathon partner). I limped along in thick slippery snow with a funky right knee for much of that route. That’s when a week of rest started to sound like a plan.
I’ve been seeing a great physiotherapist who encourages me to run through the pain if I can. But when I went in last week and said, “I’m thinking of taking a week off of running,” he thought it wasn’t a bad idea. His words: “If you’re thinking of taking a week off, then you should take it.”
I’ve been diligently doing my physio exercises to strengthen my hips and glutes so that my IT band has more support. And my plantar fasciitis, which is the main reason I started going to my physiotherapist, is pretty much gone!
But I’m also supplementing all of that with a renewed interest in chi running. I picked up a book at the library called Chi Marathon. It’s also by Danny and Katherine Dreyer, authors of the original Chi Running book. It’s reminded me of a lot of what’s recommended in the original book, and when I get back to running later this week I plan to practice some of what I’m re-learning.
Sam and I are making provisional plans (just ironing out some details) to attend a chi running workshop in Dayton, Ohio in May, with the man himself, Danny Dreyer. I’m serious enough about running that I’m willing to drive a few hours for this sort of thing. I’ve read that the workshops make a huge difference and, frankly, I could use some feedback concerning my running technique.
All that is going to come a bit too late for the Around the Bay in March, and, gulp, the Mississauga Marathon that I’ve signed up for on May 3rd. They say that sailors get a thing called “foot-itis,” where you want a bigger and bigger boat. I think a lot of runners get this too — distance-itis! I’m guessing that in the end I’ll settle in at the half marathon distance. But I’m not going to do that until I run at least one marathon. So, Mississauga here I come.
I’ve got my fingers crossed that this is all going to fall into place. When I first wrote about chi running, I’d been experiencing shin pain:
Where I used to have some shin pain and lower back pain before I tried Chi Running, the posture and foot placement alone have dealt with both. If I feel any discomfort when I am running, I just re-focus on my posture (they call it ‘leveling the pelvis’) and check in with my foot placement. Giving this kind of attention to the form of running helps me address the source of discomfort as soon as I start to feel it, and to correct it right away.
I had high hopes that chi running would transform my running:
Learning to run without serious risk of injury means a lot to me. So far, I feel optimistic that Chi Running, once mastered, will help me achieve that goal. I recommend the book to anyone interested in a gentler approach to running. Reading the book will give you enough of an idea of what Chi Running is about to decide whether you want to follow up with a workshop. I plan to do just that in the spring and look forward to reporting back once I do.
Well, I would hardly say I’ve mastered this approach. And I’m happy to have an incentive (knee and hip pain and tight IT band) that has taken me back to the basics, renewing my commitment to chi running. I want to run for a long time. And, as a friend pointed out to me the other day, we’re not in our twenties anymore!