I’ve been thinking alot about my goals for next year. I am typically not one to set resolutions, but I am loving this idea of Sankalpa.

A Charmed Yogi

In Sanskrit, the term ‘Sankalpa’ means will, purpose, determination or resolve. It is the inspired intention we set allow our true nature to shine through bringing us peace and serenity. “Rod Stryker, founder of ParaYoga, explains that the chief architect of life is the mind. To create the life we are meant to live, we must draw the mind again and again to our dharma, our deepest intentions, and the qualities of the Divine within.” [Himalayan Institute]

Sankalpa isn’t about restraint like a traditional resolution as much as it is about acceptance and nourishing that which will help you realize your Sankalpa.



sankalpa infographic



Resolve to evolve in 2013, and set an intention.


– Your Charmed Yogi

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December 17, 2012 at 6:48 am Leave a comment

Attention! Moving!

Yesterday I took advantage of a Cyber Monday sale at Blue Host and an offer by Janice over at Borden Lane solutions to transfer my blog to a self-hosted platform, and…now I own the domain chijourney.com!

Whoo hoo! It’s getting all professional like up in here!

So the transfer is going to occur tonight. If you like reading this blog (THANK YOU), and you have subscribed by email, please make sure you are still subscribed tomorrow. Please, please? Pretty please?

I don’t really know what it takes to transfer (or to self-host if I’m being honest) but I’ve heard I could lose some of you in the move and that makes me sad. So please be patient as I work on some renovations, upgrades and all around website goodery over the next week or so. Cheers to learning all about the interwebs just so I can talk about learning how to run. :)

Happy Tuesday!

Update: I have been assured I won’t lose subscribers. I’m in good hands with Janice. But I stand by the original plea to be patient as I work through some cosmetic changes over here.

November 27, 2012 at 4:18 pm 1 comment

3 Steps Backward and 8 Miles Forward

Yesterday I had a private lesson with my local ChiRunning instructor Cheryl, and I learned some mindblowing things. I’ll start with the positive (but not necessarily mindblowing).

First of all, my posture is good. Given how crucial that is, it was nice to know I’m doing something right. A good foundation is so key and I’ve got that down.

Second of all, I really know the philosophy and rules of ChiRunning. I have the tools at my disposal, so at this point it’s about using them and putting it all together. Good deal.

But despite all I know, it was still ridiculously beneficial to take a lesson. And what I learned….hoo boy.

I have some work to do. Mainly on my pelvic rotation, which I knew. Cheryl and I did a lot of ChiWalking and I was able to really feel what I should be shooting for. But, to get there, I also have a lot of work to do on my upper body. Why? Because I am not keeping my shoulders square (facing forward, with no rotation).

When your shoulders are rotating and bouncing your pelvis can’t rotate.

As I’ve said before, upper body is a key part of running, and while I thought I had grasped that, I hadn’t, actually. My shoulders are all over the place. And, what’s more, I can’t do the arm swing and keep my shoulders square at the same time. In fact, my arm swing is what makes my shoulders rotate.

I still have to keep practicing, practicing, practicing on making sure my arm swing is strong and efficient (i.e., no limp arms but not tense, and a strong but not forced pump) and that it does not cause my shoulders to move as well. The arm swing has its own benefits, and keeping my shoulders square will help with the pelvic rotation. Since it’s all connected, and I know what I need to do, hopefully it will all come together soon.

So shoulders, arms and pelvis, okay, got it. The biggest kicker of the lesson came at the end. During the few moments when we were running, I was having trouble keeping up with the 180 steps/per minute cadence of Cheryl’s metronome. It felt so fast! Afterwards, we looked at the Perfect Cadence app I’ve been using for the past 4 months and realized…what the app said was 180 steps/per minute was actually around 170/steps per minute. I would need to set that app to 198 steps/per minute to actually be running at 180.

This whole time I have been running at the wrong cadence.

Why is that a big deal? Well, running with a slower cadence means that my stride was probably too long, and that I was overworking my muscles. That explains why I am still dealing with shin pain and having trouble relaxing when running.

But, I mean, really? I have been blogging on and on about ChiRunning since July and JUST NOW learned this? This very fundamental, integral part of the form? REALLY?!!

Yes, really, so okay, correct it and get on with it. So that’s what I did today when I set off for an 8 mile long, slow distance run. I downloaded a new metronome app that I knew was correct and listened to it for at least 5 of the 8 miles to get a feeling of what the cadence is I should have been be running.

The first mile felt really weird at the proper cadence. I felt like I was taking baby steps (because I was) but I also felt so much better. I was able to relax more and didn’t have any shin pain. When I felt my calves overworking I backed off, double checked my cadence, made sure my posture was good and carried on. The sky was also really cool.

I finished the 8 miles in 1 hour and 34 minutes (11.45 pace). My first few miles were much slower than normal but I needed to go slow and get a feeling for the new rhythm. The pelvic rotation came in and out; when I kept my shoulders level and still I felt it, but like I said, practice practice practice, and it will come.

So aside from feeling like a bit of a do-do bird for not figuring this out sooner, I also am proud for having pushed through to this point and I think it’s a testament to the fact that one can glean helpful tips from the ChiRunning philosophy without totally drinking the kool-aid, like I have. Even just some subtle changes to my posture, lean and lower leg swing have allowed me to progress so much farther into running than ever before. I mean, I ran 8 miles today! I would have never thought that possible even 6 months ago.

Now that the pieces of the puzzle are starting to come together, I’m excited to see where this will go. Stay tuned!

What type of training mistakes have you made? Have you spent months doing something not-quite-right without knowing it?

Has winter come to your town in full force? Fall is still lingering here where it can.

November 25, 2012 at 6:00 pm 3 comments

Round and Round

It took me a while to get to my first run this week–although I did go skiing Thursday morning before Thanksgiving dinner!

Yesterday I finally got out there to practice my gears. I went to a high school track so I could have an even running surface while practicing running faster but keeping my cadence the same.

Let me tell you, this was hard. It took several laps of listening to a metronome to get to a point where I could increase my speed but keep a steady cadence. But even when I was keeping rhythm to the metronome I found myself still working too hard, pushing off, and giving myself shin splints. I had to think hard about keeping my feet under me, my one-legged stance, and also couldn’t tell if my pelvis was rotating enough. There were moments where it felt right but much of the run was frustrating.

After about 25 minutes of running 1/3 of a lap in each gear–1st gear (warm up pace), 2nd gear (average training pace) and 3rd gear (running hard)–I stopped switching and finished the rest of the run in 2nd gear. Mapmyrun said I did 4 miles in 40 minutes, and I’m not sure how reliable that is, but I’ll take it.

In any case, after the run I emailed Cheryl, my local ChiRunning instructor, to set up a one-on-one session. I’ve been spending months working on my form now, and although I am doing something right because I can still run without too much pain, I want to make sure I’m not engraining bad habits and I want to breakthrough these struggles with the core tenets–relaxation and pelvic rotation. I’m seeing her later today so I’ll be back soon with an update and hopefully some insights.

How’s your training going with the holiday festivities?

November 24, 2012 at 12:17 pm Leave a comment

Week 7 Training Plan

Is it just me, or did last week fly by?!

I’m already two days into Week 7 and am just now sitting down with the ChiMarathon book to see what my training plan is for the week. Slacking…Want further proof? Today instead of running I got a Thai Massage.  It was much needed though, and now I’m ready to get into the Week 7 groove.

What’s the plan this week?


What are gears?

Well, the ChiRuning gears are used just like any other gears to regulate energy expenditure and speed. ChiRunning gears are your forward lean and stride length. Your cadence (180 strides per minute, typically) stays the same but to run faster your stride length increases as you lean farther forward. But get this: your stride length increases when you allow your legs to swing back. No overstriding or landing with your feet in front of your body!

To be clearer, there are 4 ChiRunning gears:

1st gear is the warmup pace.

2nd gear is an aerobic pace, or a comfortable speed to carry on a conversation.

3rd gear is the race pace, where it is difficult to carry on a conversation.

4th gear is a sprint or anaerobic pace for short distances.

To progress through the gears you lean forward from the ankles a little bit more (about 1 inch for every gear) and let your legs swing farther up behind you. Cadence stays the same all the time! Relaxed hips, legs and feet, plus a freely rotating pelvis are key to this. If you’re holding any tension in your moving parts, you’re only creating friction and resistance to efficiency of movement.

So not only will I continue to focus on relaxing my limbs, rotating my pelvis, and keeping a steady cadence in my runs this week, I will also be practicing my 1st, 2nd, and 3rd gears; running while shifting gears, if you will. This will require playing with my lean and pushing my cardio capacity more than usual

Before my long run of 8 miles (*gulp*) on Saturday I need to get 2 45 minute runs in and then I need to be sure to get a recovery run in on Sunday. Mixed in with skiing (yep it’s ski season already), friends, families, and parties, we’ll see how it goes before Saturday, but I’ll do my best. Stay tuned…

Happy Thanksgiving everabody! What are your plans for the long weekend?


November 21, 2012 at 4:18 am 2 comments

How Important Are Recovery Runs?

I have to be honest.

I’ve been slacking the past few weeks with my recovery runs after my Saturday long runs. I simply haven’t been doing them. No excuses, except, perhaps, ignorance? Maybe I just don’t know how important recovery runs are, and if I did I would start doing them?

Well, I did some research into this area and am pretty sure I have myself convinced as to the utility of recovery runs. The following passages are taken from this article (and this and this are also good reading material to corroborate what I’m citing below).

“It is widely assumed that the purpose of recovery runs–which we may define as relatively short, slow runs undertaken within 24 hours after a harder run–is to facilitate recovery from preceding hard training. You hear coaches talk about how recovery runs increase blood flow to the legs, clearing away lactic acid and so forth. The truth is that lactic acid levels return to normal within an hour after even the most brutal workouts. Nor does lactic acid cause muscle fatigue in the first place. Nor is there any evidence that the sort of light activity that a recovery run entails promotes muscle tissue repair, glycogen replenishment or any other physiological response that is actually relevant to muscle recovery.”

What is the Real Benefit of Recovery Runs?

“In short, recovery runs do not enhance recovery. The real benefit of recovery runs is that they increase your fitness–perhaps almost as much as longer, faster runs do–by challenging you to run in a pre-fatigued state (i.e. a state of lingering fatigue from previous training.)

There is evidence that fitness adaptations occur not so much in proportion to how much time you spend exercising but rather in proportion to how much time you spend exercising beyond the point of initial fatigue in workouts. So-called key workouts (runs that are challenging in their pace or duration) boost fitness by taking your body well beyond the point of initial fatigue.

Recovery workouts, on the other hand, are performed entirely in a fatigued state, and therefore also boost fitness despite being shorter and/or slower than key workouts. Additional research has shown that when athletes begin a workout with energy-depleted muscle fibers, the brain alters the muscle recruitment patterns. Essentially, the brain tries to avoid using the worn-out muscle fibers and instead involves fresher muscle fibers that are less worn out.”

Tips for Effective Use of Recovery Runs

  • “Whenever you run again within 24 hours of completing a key workout (or any run that has left you severely fatigued or exhausted), the follow-up run should usually be a recovery run.
  • Recovery runs are only necessary if you run four times a week or more.
    • If you run just three times per week, each run should be a “key workout” followed by a day off.
    • If you run four times a week, your first three runs should be key workouts and your fourth run only needs to be a recovery run if it is done the day after a key workout instead of the day after a rest day.
  • Recovery runs are largely unnecessary during base training, when most of your workouts are moderate in both intensity and duration. When you begin doing formal high-intensity workouts and exhaustive long runs, it’s time to begin doing recovery runs in roughly a 1:1 ratio with these key workouts.
  • There are no absolute rules governing the appropriate duration and pace of recovery runs.
    • A recovery run can be as long and fast as you want, provided it does not affect your performance in your next scheduled key workout.
    • In most cases, however, recovery runs cannot be particularly long or fast without sabotaging recovery from the previous key workout or sabotaging performance in your next one.
    • A little experimentation is needed to find the recovery run formula that works best for each individual runner.”

So I think I’m sold, and now that my mileage is increasing (I’ll be doing 8 miles on Saturday! eek!) and becoming more of a hardship on my body, I need to get in the habit of getting out there and doing a recovery run.

What do you think? Are you a die hard believer in recovery runs or not?


November 19, 2012 at 2:18 pm 8 comments

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