It’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!
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