Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Learning to Run with ChiRunning

I've never been able to run. In grade school, I could never run the mile for the presidential fitness test (do they still do those?). And the running I had to do for high school volleyball was so agonizing, I didn't attempt it again until years later. When I did, I hated it. It took me months to build up to run a mile, and I couldn't run much farther than that, so I soon quit.

Fast forward about 15 years, when I told my personal trainer earlier this year that I can't run. He was quick to encourage me to give it a try...trying new activities would challenge me in new ways, he argued.

So I started running intervals during my walks. I started with a minute, progressed to a minute and a half, and eventually got up to two minutes. But there was no way I could run much longer than two minutes, so I just assumed I'd never be able to run.

But then I realized: my intervals were at a very fast pace, and my heart rate was around 80-90%. What if I slowed my pace down? I got out my Garmin Forerunner and watched to make sure my heart rate didn't get above 70%...and the first time I did that, I ran for 26 minutes with a two-minute walking break! I was stunned. A year ago, I thought it would have been impossible. I did it once more, and the third time I tried, I was able to run 29 minutes continuously. It was really tough for me, and I was panting at the end like crazy and was dead tired, but I was proud of myself.

Then a friend told me about ChiRunning, which is about effortless, injury-free running. Effortless, huh? I got the book the very next day!

I've spent the past week reading it and learning about the technique. The ChiRunning website explains it better than I can, but it's a blend of T'ai Chi and running that focuses on using core strength.

I tried the technique yesterday morning for the first time. WOW! It really was much, much easier than the heavy, plodding running I'd previously done. I had no problem doing 30 minutes continuously and felt like I could have done more. I'm just starting so have a lot more to learn (there are a lot of things to focus on), but I'm thrilled to learn this technique that's making something that's always been so grueling so accessible.

I'm so excited about it, I signed up for my first 5K! It's the Run Around the Square in Regent Square, and I'll be running it with my sister on August 27. Wish me luck!


  1. It's a great book -- glad it's working for you! Have fun training for the 5k! The training should be as fun as the actual race (that whole "the journey is the destination" bit, ya know) :)

  2. good luck with the 5K! I am gonna check out that website now, as I don't advocate running due to the stress on the knees and joints. i prefer hiking the trails of Frick Park or North Park...

  3. Someone just told me about this yesterday! I have problems with my knees, after many years of running and someone recommended this. Gotta check out the book. Good luck with your running!

  4. I need to check out that book! I've never been a runner and I'm just starting to run regularly, but about three minutes is my limit and I know it's because my pace is too fast. I signed up for the Great Race 5k in September, so I'm trying to develop some discipline and actually train and get better. I've noticed that humidity makes a big difference in how easy my run seems too and that it's much more enjoyable early in the morning, so I need to start scheduling earlier wake up times.

  5. VB,
    Congrats on your running/ChiRunning successes.

    Here is a intro video I thought you might like:
    - ChiRunning Simplified!, Efficient and Injury Free Natural Running Technique


  6. Good luck with the race! Interesting to know about the book, thanks.

  7. That is awesome! I never ran as a kid (also hated the Presidential 1 mile fitness test thing) but took up running as an adult, and really got hooked on it. It is awesome to test your boundaries! Good luck at your 5K!

  8. wow! that's amazing. seriously, seriously, amazing. good luck on the training/race!