Running Better, Not Just More

If you run you are a runnerIt’s no secret that I struggle with running.  Not just with being slow (which I am) but with really, really hating it.  This is frustrating both because I spend a lot of my time doing it, but also because in general I totally love being in my body and, though I’ve been able to keep running as a “me and my body against a problem” situation and not slip into a “me against my body” situation, I’d still like to feel something like the joy I feel when I’m dancing while I run. Also the cramping has gotten a lot better, but it is still an issue.

In my research around these issues I came across the concept of Chi Running – developed by a runner (Danny Dreyer) in concert with a Tai Chi master (George Xu). The focus is on using your body more efficiently to gain speed, and reduce the chance for injury.  I got the book and video and started applying some of the concepts and it helped.  I decided to take it to the next level and found coach Steve Mackel.  I sent him an e-mail, including my need to work from a weight neutral perspective:

After doing quite a bit of research, I think the ChiRunning method may well be the right approach for me. I purchased the video and things have improved but I know that learn best in a one on one coaching environment.

Since it’s been a stumbling block for other coaches I do want to let you know right off the bat that I’m a fat athlete with no interest in  weight loss so I need a coach who is excited about working with me from a weight-neutral perspective.

Just let me know if this is something that you’re interested in discussing and, if so, what the next steps would be!

Steve got back to me right away, agreeing to work within my parameters. We set up a coaching session at a park near my house.  I was a little bit nervous but Steve put me at ease right away.  He explained the philosophies in really specific anatomical detail which really helped. He was also able to show me some parallels in dance, which gave me something to relate it to. We did some drills and then it was time to start running.

It wasn’t easy, per se, but it was definitely easier, we worked on flats, then up and down hills. I had some cramping issues but they didn’t start until the middle of the run which was nice, and I was able to walk them off instead of having to stop or run in constant pain.

As I’ve been practicing on my own I am more and more glad that I did this.  It really helps me to have a technique with specific things that I can focus on and work on.  Often the message is that if you’re not good at running, you should just run more.  I am definitely going to run more, but I also want to run better, and having a technique to focus on is giving me that chance!

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff!

I’m having a sale on my books and DVDs and downloads to help pay for my IM – you get books and dance classes, I get spandex clothes and bike parts. Everybody wins! To check it out, you can go to No money?  No problem!  If you feel like it, you can leave a comment or send me an e-mail ( saying something encouraging, that’s incredibly helpful as well!

If you have questions about my IRONMAN journey  the FAQ might help!

If you’re looking for a place to talk about fitness from a weight neutral perspective, check out the Fit Fatties Forum. and the Fit Fatties Facebook page.

Book Me!  I’m a professional speaker and I’d love to speak to your organization. You can get more information on topics, previous engagements and reviews here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!

Buy my book:  Fat:  The Owner’s Manual  The E-Book is Name Your Own Price!Click here for details

About danceswithfat

Hi, I’m Ragen Chastain. Speaker, Writer, Dancer, Choreographer, Marathoner, Soon to be IRONMAN, Activist, Fat Person.
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7 Responses to Running Better, Not Just More

  1. Rose says:

    Oh, yay! I’m glad for you that you are having a slightly better experience.


  2. Karen Williams says:

    Running is actually my favorite part of triathlon but this is because I run/jog/walk trails. Ever heard of Caballo Blanco? Inspiring (crazy) dude. Run Free documentary.


  3. Amy says:

    Good news that it is getting better! I also get terrible cramps when running, but magnesium supplements (particularly slow release tablets like “slow-mag” have been miraculous at helping


  4. Toogz says:

    I bet you’re just being modest. 🙂 You’ve been training for almost a year now. After putting in so much hard work day after day, you are probably at a really impressive level of fitness. And you still have 3 months to go!! Keep it up ragen, and I bet you’re really going to surprise some people with how well you do.


  5. Thanks for sharing this. The run is my least favourite third of triathlon, but I try to remind myself how appreciative I am that my body allows me to do these activities (when it’s not injured) and that sometimes I do actually enjoy running (especially when I have a wicked playlist to run to). I’m going to look up some of the references you mentioned because I can always use tips on how to improve my run.

    Yay, you!


  6. lsstrout says:

    So glad you found something that helps!


  7. Jean says:

    Good for you! I live in Az and I’m thinking about going to the ironman just to see you! I know you wont let us down!


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