3 Steps Backward and 8 Miles Forward

November 25, 2012 at 6:00 pm 3 comments

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.


Entry filed under: Chi Running.

Round and Round Attention! Moving!

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Bobo  |  November 26, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    Great blog, inspiring and exhausting to think about 8 miles!

  • 2. grackleandsun  |  November 25, 2012 at 9:09 pm

    Better to find out now, though, right? Great lesson. It’s helpful to have someone who can give you an objective view on your form. I went to a new qigong class yesterday morning. Not only did this instructor actually correct our form and body positions (rare in my experience), but we practiced in front of a mirror. Had no idea how helpful that would be. Here’s to good chi work in all its forms!

    • 3. Steph  |  November 26, 2012 at 10:25 am

      Yes, much better to learn now than down the road, or never. That’s great you got some feedback on your form as well! Cheers indeed!


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