I had put off my run for a day because my hip was sore and I really hadn't slept good for a couple of nights. I worked the tennis ball into the spot and iced and felt much better. Then I had to head to work for half a day (Saturday). I watched the day go from partly sunny to mostly cloudy, but the temps. were in mid-60s and it seemed like a great day for a run.
I was anxious to put to the test a long run using my ChiRunning techniques I am learning. I am convinced the more I get into the book and rewatch the DVD that this is a method that not only works but should be able to free me from my injury proneness (word??) and get me enthused about running again. Enthused isn't really the word. Not afraid might be a better way to put it. Yes, I admit. I am afraid to really think I can run anything more than a 5k again, yet I am willing to chance it because I used to love running and being competitive. I know I hold back and I want to get past that. Its one of my main excused for not considering an IM distance race: I'm afraid I will get injured again and be out of it again. I do believe that mind over matter works, but I need more reassurance that I do have the ability to go the distance, and I am hoping the ChiRunning gives me the confidence to believe in myself again.
So how did my run go yesterday? This is the third attempt, and the first two, while showing promise, made me realize I still had some work to do. First, I think it makes me run faster than I am conditioned to do for any length of time yet, so to avoid the breathlessness I encountered the first two times, I decided to do a run/walk and hold the pace. I realized that I could run longer than a few minutes, but wanted to go farther than just a few miles.
My route was along the river, fairly pleasant, not too many others out there, and no "serious" runners to worry about running into. They always went at 7 or 8 am, and this was 3 pm, so not much chance of seeing anyone and getting distracted.
I decided on a 3/2 pace, not so fast I realize, but after 20 minutes I was fairly surprised how much ground I had covered, compared with my usual 20 minute distance. Also after re-reading some of the book, here's some of the important points to remember:
- Posture. Yes, your mother was right. Stand up straight. Proper alignment of your body takes the impact off joints and muscles and makes it possible to run with less effort.
- Relax. Keeps muscles from tightening and becoming fatigued and sore.
- Cadence. Holding a cadence of 85-90. A tip for keeping cadence is to count: left 2-3, right 2-3, left 2-3, right 2-3, etc. This works every time.
- Arm swing. Your arm swing dictates your cadence. Your legs will follow your arms every time.
- Lean. The lean what determines speed. If you want to run faster, you lean more. If you want to run slower, lean less. Your legs do not have to increase speed. Your body will naturally go faster with your lean.
- Lifting your heels. Rather than lifting your knees, you lift your heels. That puts no pressure on the knees, and helps you land fully on your foot rather than on your heel or toes.
The last was the hardest for me to do because I still have some stiffness and tightness in a hamstring I am trying to work out, but I did not feel any fatigue in the hamstring, just a little discomfort. I'm sure it was because I am not lifting my knees.
Sounds counterproductive to what we have learned in the past, but you need to see the form in motion to see what I mean. And as to less effort? Oh yeah. Even though I was doing a run/walk, which I realize does help on longer distances for me, that never prevented me from getting off pace after a while because I would get sore or tired.
This time, my out and back was within 10 seconds of each other. Ten seconds as opposed to 10 minutes like might have happened in the past. Even pacing. I blame that 10 seconds on needing to find a stick to protect myself from the Canada goose that was having issues with anyone passing by because apparently a nest was somewhere near. (I've been attacked before and wasn't going to go there again. Fortunately I didn't need to use the stick.)
Six+ miles. I was tired when I got done but not exhausted or done in. I probably could have gone another mile or two if I had really had to, but decided that was enough of a lesson today.
My goal then is to increase my running time within this 6-7 mile run distance, meaning, I want to be able to run a full mile at a time with this method. It will take practice. The book does indicate it could take a couple of months, so for anyone with immediate race plans, now might not be the time to start something new. While it may take a while to get this down right, the benefits will be worth it, in my estimation. I am glad I put off earlier this year a race that I was having doubts about doing and put my sights on a race toward the end of June. That gives me more time to work on this and get it right. From a triathlete standpoint, the ChiRunning method does take the work out of your quads while running making it easier on the bike/run transition. That I am looking forward to.