Freedom To Run - Ease, Efficiency, Speed

Jon Burdon, Chi Running and Chi Walking instructor based in England and Wales

Freedom To Run - Blog

This blog is all about my journey with Chi Running. I try to discuss all aspects of the practice. I also write a book review for every book I read about running. Please DO post comments below - you don't event need to have an account - just leave your name :)

I've been a lover or the outdoors all my life. It was only when I discovered Chi Running that the joy of running really came home to me.

Reasons I Run Every Day

Reasons I Run Every Day

 

30th Nov 2018 finds me at the milestone of running every day for 2 years. I thought it was time to explain a bit more about this.

What is the challenge?

I run at least one mile every day. I don’t use treadmills and I don’t run inside. This means I have various different 1 mile loops from my front door – trail, flat, uphill, and in various directions. When I would normally have a rest day in my training programme I just pick one of my one mile routes.

There has been a lot written about the mental health benefits of running. Running every day is essentially about learning to make positive, life fulfilling, healthy choices. It's about learning to say YES instead of NO, learning to drop the excuses. These choices affect you mentally as much as they do physically.

 

I have run

 

So, why?

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Gradual Progress - Step by Step

Gradual Progress - Step by Step

I've written several blogs on this principle before. I just keep coming back to the belief that this is one of the fundamental cornerstones for runners, and wanted to put this right at the top of my list for client advice in the next phase of my coaching. I meet so many runners who have broken this principle. If that's you, don't be hard on yourself, it's really very easy to misjudge and there are a lot of people out there who seem to believe in the old paradigm or the 'push push push, mind over body' approach.

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The Mindful Athlete, Secrets to Pure Performance, by George Mumford

The Mindful Athlete, Secrets to Pure Performance, by George Mumford

Chi Running is purely and simply, in my view, a way of moving mindfully - being fully mentally present in the body and using mental focus as one of the primary ways to improve our running. How do we maximise the positive effect of mindfulness to improve not just our well being, but our level of performance in running? 'The Mindful Athlete,' by George Mumford tackles the subject brilliantly and is sure to become a classic. It's an absolute must read for anyone who is an ambitious runner, and is interested in exploring the mental aspects of the sport. I think we all know that so much of our performance in running is 'all in the mind,' but actually unpicking how to hone our mental landscape can be very slippery. In my experience there are several interrelated pathways here. For example many people, including myself, have benefitted greatly by using sports psychology approaches such as Neuro Linguistic Programming, or other techniques from modern positive psychology. Some people seem to just be born with a huge level of grit and determination - a 'race winning' kind of mindset. My personal feeling is that developing mindfulness based habits has the potential to revolutionise a persons athletic potential. It is my preferred method of 'sorting out my head' as a runner in the long term.

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Finding flow

Finding flow

Last weekend I was on a quiet retreat in Northumberland. After spending a while participating in a discussion I went for a run before night prayers. It was one of those moments when everything flowed and came together. Everything outside was totally and absolutely silent and still. It seemed like all my senses were heightened. I could smell the freshly cut hedges. The only thing I could hear was my own footsteps. I could feel my breath as it filled my lungs and it seemed that I was tasting the air even within my lungs. It seemed more nourishing than normal. As I ran i quickly became able to relax deeper and deeper into a state of joy. I even raised up my arms for a moment out of happiness. Then I just relaxed more, finding balance with my posture line and enjoyed the journey.

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Run for your life

Run for your life
A friend mentioned Dynamic Running Therapy on facebook a short while ago and when the book title 'Run for your Life' grabbed my attention I was immediately hooked. This book, subtitled 'mindful running for a happy life' brings running and therapy together. We seem to be scared of the therapy room (for some reason) in this country. If this is you then you will love Dynamic Running Therapy because it gets you outside! You can also learn the techniques on your own, with a carefully chosen running (therapy?) partner, or through the app. The environment itself has healing qualities, and so does moving through it, so us runners are off to a great start when it comes to mental health. The book explains how to harness and maximise the potential of the healing qualities of running.

As a Chi Runner, I'm always looking for ways to develop mindfulness approaches when I'm out running so it wasn't long before I got in touch with @pullentherapy on Twitter for a tweet based interview. Here are the results.

 







(Sorry for the typo - I meant two words that really strike a chord.)


















I hope you enjoyed reading the conversation as much as did talking to William. I also hope this has encouraged you to look again at the mindfulness element of your running. Mindfulness is right at the heart of Chi Running. Chi Runners believe running can enrich your whole life - not just whilst you are running. As Justin Whittaker puts it here: http://www.onbeing.org/blog/chirunning-a-sitting-meditation-justin-whitaker/

" It's a lot about mindfulness of the body and really feeling what's going on, learning appropriate posture and then relaxing into it. "

I personally think that's just the tip of the iceberg in what Chi Running has to offer. I use regular and specific mindfulness based exercises whilst I running. It's great to be able to add a bit to my collection of techniques. I think it's safe to say I will be blogging more on this subject. If you have any interest at all in mindful running, or in using running to improve mental health then give this book a read.

If you would like to explore this area more, get in touch, or book on to one of my Mindful Fitness Weekends. If you are interested in finding out more from William Pullen about his book and his therapeutic approach, his website is here. I also recommend reading Running with the Mind of Meditation which I have also blogged about.

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The Chi Marathon Principle

The Chi Marathon Principle

I thought I'd put a few thoughts together to summarise some of the key messages from the Chi Marathon book by Danny and Katherine Dreyer.

"I had won three major marathons, Berlin (1997), London and Amsterdam (both 1998). I had very fruitful years with four world cross country silver medals, one European cross-country gold medal, countless national titles, two Olympic games, the Irish records in the 10k, half marathon and marathon, and a smattering of European and world championships achieved.

But I began losing my battle with niggling injury. Irish newspaper headlines regularly led with stories of me pulling out of big events due to injury. Running is meant to be enjoyed, not endured, I thought... I got my hands on a copy of Danny and Katherine Dreyer's book Chi Running, and I couldn't put it down. After enduring years of pain and injury and wondering what was the cause of it all, I found that Danny's book was providing me with all the answers."

- Catherina McKiernan, the forward to Chi Marathon

There is a reason why my business name is suffixed with 'Ease - Efficiency - Speed.' it's because I believe we need to get form right before we build up distance. Running beyond our form is not good for us. You've all seen that marathon runner who has lost all form and is struggling to keep going even at a walk. Chi Running is about listening to your body and enjoying your running more!

I think of the essence of the Chi Marathon principle as:

Form - Distance - Speed

or

Form then Distance then Speed

Perhaps you prefer to imagine it in the form of a pyramid, where we build up the basics first:

Speed

Distance

F     O     R    M

The Chi Marathon book actually has a 24 week training programme, with no fewer than 7 separate phases. These are all focussed on training the whole person, and keeping you enjoying your whole experience. The principle of gradual progress is an essential for Chi Running, and this also underpins the Chi Marathon approach.

The seven phases are as follows:

1 Vision, Goals and Planning

2 The Technique Phase

3 The Conditioning Phase

4 The Mastery Phase

5 Taper Time

6 Race Weekend

7 Rest and Renewal

It's the development of technique first and foremost that makes the Chi Marathon principle so powerful. Building up the distance over which you can maintain good technique comes next. The speed at which you can run, maintaining that form, is the 'icing on the cake.' 

How many runners do it the other way around? They launch themselves into speed intervals or massive mileage. It is only when they are injured that they think 'why.' I'm not wanting to sound judgemental here - I must assure you I've been there too and I feel the draw to get pulled in to that way of thinking. The truth is that it is only when I put technique first that I find I can run pain free.

What can you do to help prepare for your marathon?

  • Remember Form - Distance - Speed ... in that order. Trust the principle through your training
  • Work on your technique early on - Use Chi Running focusses such as posture, relaxation, alignment, cadence, lean
  • Be very strict with yourself about gradual progress
  • Remember speed work is fine, in facts it's GREAT, but it's not more important that anything else. The same applies to distance and mileage.

 

Chi Running isn't magic and it isn't a guarantee, but it has helped a lot of people and it's worked for me. I can't see how you can argue with the principles. Comments anyone?

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6 ways to run more efficiently in 2017 ... and for ever.

6 ways to run more efficiently in 2017 ... and for ever.

​Do you want to take your running further in 2017? Whatever your goal, Chi Running can help your running to feel easier and more efficient. Here are a variety of ways to become more efficient. They are all basic principles of the current understanding of good running technique and fundamentals Chi Running technique.

1 Run Tall

Posture is a fundamental of good running technique. If you have never related this to your running before, you could be on the verge of something big... well taller. Have you ever seen that runner who crosses this finish line and has totally lost their form? One of the first things to go is posture.  Try experimenting with how long you can maintain good posture when you are running? Try a posture check every 10 minutes. If you aren't sure how to do that, you could start by imagining a helium balloon tethered to the crown of your head and lifting you up from that area.

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6 Reasons I LOVE my local Parkrun

6 Reasons I LOVE my local Parkrun

famrun

I go to Huddersfield Parkrun every week and I can't see me ever stopping this fantastic habit. It's not just running ... it's Parkrun. Some of the stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things are just amazing. One chap is just about to finish running 2000 miles this year after suffering a heart attack on the start line just a few years ago. Then there was the time over 100 people were coached from couch to 5k by Acre Street Runners. Just awesome. If you've not tried it, see if I can convince you ...

 

 

Have I got it right? Have I missed something? I'd love to hear your comments below.

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The Geneva Marathon 8th May 2016 - Review

The Geneva Marathon 8th May 2016 - Review

Why Geneva?

We headed out to Geneva to run Becky's (my wife’s) first marathon. To be honest we hadn’t heard of the event when it popped up in a Facebook advert. We looked at the cost of the event (£50 each) and then waited until Easyjet flight prices from Manchester (£50 each) were announced. It was only when we had worked out the combined price of the race, flights and hotel that we decided it was pretty good value really. Plus, of course, we were really drawn by the chance to visit a beautiful part of the world.
 swissflag

Organisation

 
The way the whole event was organised was pretty much flawless. The registration (also the race finish) is easy to find right in the centre of the city. It was so easy to find your way round as each area (bib collection, race information etc) was all signposted very clearly. Everyone was very helpful and even though we had a few questions these were all handled quickly and efficiently by people who had all the information that they needed to answer our questions. There was plenty to drink, and it was nice to be provided with some free sun block as the forecast was hotter than expected.
 

Photos and Video

The HD quality race video that you receive afterwards was great. We bought the extended version and thought it was worth the money. The photos were also great but it was a bit disappointing that they were all taken in the city and there were no shots of the spectacular mountain backdrop.
 
genevaroute2

Course information

The course was flat. Very flat. The finish is actually 50m lower than the start. There are some very gentle inclines in the first half but these are nothing to make a difference to speed by more than a few seconds. The last half of the race is absolutely pancake flat. It runs along the side of the lake and in to the city centre before a spectacular finish on the Pont De Mont Blanc (the big famous bridge right next to the jet d’eau fountain.) If you are looking for a PB course this could be it, especially as there are relatively fewer runners (less than 2000) compared with most big marathons. That is in part due to the fact that 16,000 people do a wide range of events over the weekend. 6,000 did the Half Marathon and there is also a relay marathon.
 

courseprofile

 

Did we enjoy it then?

You bet we did. The warm air was such a welcome after training in freezing temperatures in England. We also loved running through stunning yellow fields of Rapeseed with swiss villages peeping out and, of course, a backdrop of snowy Alps which kept our attention in the far distance. The atmosphere was very friendly and it was great to be amongst such an international group of runners.
 
genevaroute
 

Hints and tips for anyone considering running

 

Stay central

Even though you will have a ticket for free transport around the city on the day of the marathon, I suggest staying within walking distance of the city centre. We stayed near the airport and although we benefitted from cheaper restaurant prices and it was only a 20 minute bus ride this is a long way when you are tired and you could access some of the city centre hotels more easily.
 

Check the weather

We have very hot (26 degrees) running conditions. In 2015 the weather was very wet and colder. As you would expect with any running event in Spring, be prepared for anything and make sure you check the forecast carefully before you travel!
 

How to prepare yourself for the this race

This is a pb course with relatively less support from the crowd compared with most big city marathons. Get used to motivating yourself and also using the natural environment around you for motivation - there’s enough of that around the course.
 

Remember you are well supported with energy

The aid stations were excellent - water (in cups), isotonic drink, energy gels, crackers and fruit were all easy to access and handed out by really friendly people.
 

It’s in French!

Of course everyone speaks some English but we LOVED the international feel to this event. There were people from a massive range of countries and we all had our national flag on the front of our race number which was great. You might need to be prepared to cheer your fellow runners on in their language but you’ll soon learn what to say just by listening.
 

A final word

This was a very emotional race for me as I ran it alongside Becky who had previously suffered from C.F.S. / M.E. for over 11 years. During that time she couldn’t even walk without becoming exhausted. Crossing the finishing line was such a great testimony to the progress she has made. If you would like to sponsor her to raise money for our local hospice (Kirkwood Hospice) we would really appreciate it.  https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Becky-Burdon?utm_id=13
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Why do we struggle to do things that are good for us?

Why do we struggle to do things that are good for us?

This blog caught my attention. I thought I'd post a response.

The blog suggests that there are three reasons why we struggle to do things that are good for us (eg eat well, exercise.) 1. Lack of Awareness - we aren't aware of what to do. 2. Lack of Permission - we don't give ourselves permission to do what we know is good for us. 3. Obstacles or Road Blocks.

I'd like to respond to both of these thoughts, and then add a few thoughts of my own. My thoughts are based on my personal experiences using NLP (Neuro Liguistic Programming) and Mindfulness techniques.

Lack of Awareness

It's true! we're SO unaware of what  we need to do to look after ourselves. We live in an unnatural and unhealthy modern bubble that is damaging to our bodies and minds. Fortunately the mindfulness revolution is really beginning to spread. Businesses are changing, the government is seeing that there are benefits in the NHS and in education. I've previously written a blog on the subject of mindfulness based improvement in running. I really do believe a mindfulness based approach is an important one here - learning to increase our awareness of the present moment - surely that's got to be a good thing! There are still a great many people charging around unaware that they are suffering from stress and living with a level of pain and discomfort that they simply don't need to.

Like the boiling frog - we are sat in a pan of boiling water (stress) that is getting hotter and hotter and we're unaware of it. Like a frog being dropped in to a pan of boiling water if we took a step back and realised how crazy our lives have become we'd jump straight out of the pan!

Frogs-in-hot-water

 

Lack of Permission

It's true! We don't give ourselves permission to look after ourselves. I actually got hostile looks in a meeting on wellbeing for teachers when I suggested that exercise could be a way to combat stress. It's true though, it sharpens our mind and keeps us calm. The research is there to prove it. But still in many work places you are made to feel guilty for looking after yourself. There's a kind of competition to see who can 'do the most' - and it's not healthy. I'm guessing that if you're reading this then you probably already give yourself a certain level of permission to look after yourself. Maybe it's time to take it to a new level?

3) Obstacles or roadblocks

We all have plenty of these! I think our attitude is really key here. There are so many practical barriers here. I actually think that the WOOP method suggested in the blog might be a really good tool for tackling the next steps your might be wishing to take in your Chi Running if you have been 'stuck in a rut' and not able to motivate yourself to keep focussed. Why not choose a Chi Running focus and give it a go?

The Yoda Factor

The very title of the blog is wrong. The word struggle should probably be banned from our vocabulary. What does it imply? The very word implies that we might not succeed. I'd suggest that we should eliminate certain words from our vocabulary and definitely from our self talk when it comes to looking after ourselves. When you're deciding whether to go out for a long run on a wet night or whether to take an easier shortcut to your route listen to your language. Try ... struggle ... these very words imply failure. Our self talk let's us down. Pay attention to some of yours nonjudgementally and maybe you should think about using kinder words instead.

"Do or do not - there is no try."

- Yoda.

 

 

 

 

 

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I just ran at 4000m altitude ... in London!

I just ran at 4000m altitude ... in London!
I just got back from an inspirational workshop with Patrick McKeown, leading global expert on the buteyko breathing method and developer of The Oxygen Advantage approach to breathing for runners.  The day included a combination of the theory and science behind the Buteyko method and how it applies to running. We had plenty of practical opportunities to practise a range of exercises which help correct dysfunctional breathing and also that simulate high altitude training. This blog is a bit of a mash up of links, quotes, tips and pictures that give a quick flavour of the day.
 
If you're not sure whether this might be of interest to you, Patrick's bio on his Buteyko Clinic website says this:
 
"Did you know that mouth breathing significantly increases the risk of abnormal development of children's faces, crooked teeth, snoring, obstructive sleep apnea, poor concentration, ADHD, respiratory problems including asthma, hay fever and poor sports performance?"
 
During one of the sessions I used a pulse oximeter to measure my oxygen saturation, which went down to 90% - so according to this graph that's 4000m altitude!
 
Oxygen Saturation at Altitude
 
Since reading the book and writing my previous blog on The Oxygen Advantage I have realised that I have been habitually over breathing for the whole of my life, and have already taken steps to correct this and am regularly simulating high altitude situations whilst running through the use of breath holding techniques. The book made a link between many of the health conditions that have affected me throughout my life, and the way I have been breathing, so I'm really hoping to improve my running but also my whole health bu following this method.
 
I particularly enjoyed Patrick's soft, non judgemental and supportive approach. Despite there being a clear history of over breathing in my case, I didn't feel 'like I'd been doing it all wrong' because of Patrick's non-judgemental attitude. He also spent a great deal of time encouraging us to accept our current BOLT (Body Oxygen Level Test) score and habits and just start from wherever we are now.
 
I've also started to experiment with a nose clip from rhinomed to expand my nasal passages and help me nose breathe- thanks for that Patrick!
 
So I'm left feeling really positive about the future of my health, wellbeing and improvement in running. I'm expecting to see some real improvements in my running as well as some great health benefits. I'm also hoping that my children might not go the same way I did!
 
If you didn't make it to the day, here is a graphic that I made from all the notes I took on my ipad. 
 
Photo 28-02-2016 19 26 25
 
A few videos from the day were fascinating. You can watch quite a few of them here.
 
 
 
To finish with, here are a few inspiring and memorable notes, tips and quotes from the day. These are my own notes, so please don't think they are word perfect.
 
When breathing is difficult, the running often isn't the issue .... Everyday breathing is usually the issue.
 
Identify if you have the signs of dysfunctional breathing - breathing through the mouth, dry mouth after sleep.
 
You can tell if someone is a lifelong mouth breather by their facial structure
 
Question. Can you run with absolute relaxation?
 
Light breathing causes more oxygen to be delivered to cells
 
Co2 is needed for oxygen delivery to cells it is not a waste gas
 
Do you understand the physiological aspects of stress?
 
The Oxygen Advantage simulated high altitude training exercises can improve vo2 max and running economy.
 
Remember: With breathing, less is worth more. All authentic practitioners of breathing focus on this.
 
If you can run with every cell of your body, then you will be in a state of complete relaxation
 
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The Oxygen Advantage - Book review from a Chi Running perspective

The Oxygen Advantage - Book review from a Chi Running perspective

The Oxygen Advantage by Patrick Mckeown - a book review from a Chi Running perspective. The books starts with some essentials on how breathing works. I love the title of the website 'The Oxygen Advantage - Simulate High Altitude Training.' This is a great introduction and easy for the non scientist to follow. It's fascinating to find out more about the anatomy and functions of the nose. If turns out it's not just two holes in your face!

Lungs

You will quickly learn how to work out your Body Oxygen Level Test score (BOLT.) The aim of following the Oxygen Advantage course is to improve this score, and along with it gain the wide range of health benefits that the book claims. These include getting rid of asthma, weight loss, improving sleep and increasing sports performance.

As the book moves on and discusses some really useful practical exercises to help improve your BOLT score it also has some really clear examples of groups who breathe through the their nose all the time. This helps make the point about the importance of nose breathing. It also provides a nice link with the Born to Run book for those who have read that.

It may be surprising to think that many of us breath incorrectly. This is much like the way we have got in to bad postural habits and therefore a natural running technique like chi Running can make a huge difference to our running. It's true that learning Chi Walking and Chi Running seem uneccesary to some people, "why do i need to learn how to walk?" When people take the time to learn some simple techniques and accept that there is a link between the way they move and associated health problems, they will be ready to explore ways to change that. It's developing a mindful practice throughout all our lives and living by the principle of gradual progress that make a huge difference here.

I must say I have been utterly convinced (if I wasn't before) of the importance of breathing correctly, and also that so many people don't breath correctly. I've also been convinced that making changes in our everyday lives - when we are just sitting around and going about daily routines - can have a huge effect in our performance in sport. There is another parallel to Chi Running here, as I love the way that some of the best changes we can make to improve our running are those postural adjustments that we make all day every day throughout out routines. As you can see the book fits perfectly with the Chi Running philosophy and the two approaches complement each other very well indeed.

The surprise chapter, which really was the icing on the cake for me, was 'finding the zone.' This chapter spends a great deal of time discussing how important mindfulness is for the human being, and its relevance to anyone wanting to breath better. Again it had a lot of examples of how mind body techniques can be of huge benefits and did a great job of extolling the advantages of using mindfulness techniques together with the Oxygen Advantage breathing exercises. In fact, if you follow the programme properly you need to include mindfulness in it. This image reminds us of the links between breathing and mindfulness.

Stream

Here is a short quote from the Finding the Zone chapter to highlight just how close the philosophy is to that of Chi Running. "Scan your body for any tension that may be residing there, and bring a gentle feeling of release to tense areas to encourage relaxation. Tension of muscle groups during sports is counterproductive and consumes energy - learn to recognise areas of tension in your body and practise melting them away with the power of the mind."

 The book suggests looking at a video of a cheetah running to see just how relaxed it looks. Here is an example of such a video (opens in new window.)

Can you see just how relaxed it looks? Can you see, yet again, a common approach shared between The Oxygen Advantage book and the Chi Running way of looking at running (and life)?

So this is definitely the start of my journey with the 'Oxygen Advantage' programme. I have used various breathing techniques before but I'm going to give this one some real sustained attention and report back in another blog. Please do comment and ask questions you might have about the book, any resources you have in breathing or any methods you have used yourself.

In summary, read this book if:

  • You are a runner who has never thought about breathing technique
  • You have had problems with your breathing at some point in your life
  • You aren't sure why nose breathing is important
  • You are interested in a mindfulness based approach to life

 

Read the book? Like my blog? Dislike my blog? As always, please leave your comments below.

If you want to learn the breathing technique, why not attend the following workshop, organised by Chi Running UK? 

 OXY2

 

This workshop is only available through the Chi Running UK website and some places are still available at the time of writing. Please click the link above to purchase this, or to find out more information.

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Learn How To Walk (mindfully)

Learn How To Walk (mindfully)

Mindfulness is becoming a household term. What if we could develop habits as part of our daily routine that not only help us remain calm and focused but are also good for our bodies? What if we could be kinder to our bodies in the process, developing healthy lifelong habits that help us to exercise for our whole lives?

Learning to walk and run more mindfully can do just that.

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Recovery

Recovery

In Chi Running we teach the principle of gradual progress (see my recent blog on that subject.) So don't rush from a race straight back to your normal training regime.

Here is a bit of advice on post race recovery. Supplements and Sports Drinks are mentioned, which I believe do have a place for some runners.

Optimising Recovery after a Run

Depending on how seriously you train– recovery from exercise can potentially become a huge issue. 

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Raw Nutrition for Runners

Raw Nutrition for Runners

The Chi Running book has a whole section on Chi Living and also discusses diet. Diet plays a central role in becoming a better runner. I recently qualified as a Sport and Exercise Nutritional Advisor and am avidly reading through various books around the theme of nutrition for runners. See my previous blog on Finding Ultra, for example. I'm begining to explore more and more what raw and much less processed food can do for us as athletes (and as human beings!)

I'm going to share a few recipes in the next few blogs. Why not post a photo and comment when you've tried one out?

Paul from Paul Poole Mountainreering has let me share this yummy recipe. Make it today!

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Gradual Progress

Gradual Progress

I talk to my clients about the idea of gradual progress, but I don't really get enough time to focus in this in depth during a workshop. I've noticed that we all vary in our understand of what gradual really means, so thought I'd write in a bit more detail than my previous blog on this subject.

I'd like to suggest that most running injuries actually come from breaking the principle of gradual progress - people run beyond what their running form is able to deal with - whether that is a change in distance, speed, gradient or just footwear.

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The Mindful Runner Part 3 - Non Judgement

The Mindful Runner Part 3 - Non Judgement

I've just got back from a wonderful 'Introduction to Mindfulness' workshop lead by my good wife Becky, a trained mindfulness teacher. So I'm fresh and full of ideas for how mindfulness and Chi Running overlap (if indeed they differ at all.) In this series of three short articles on 'The Mindful Runner' I have already explored how "mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way On Purpose and In the Present Moment." (Jon Kabat Zinn, Full Catastrophe Living.) This final article focusses on being 'Non Judgemental'.

 binit

Unhelpful thoughts dominate our minds, if we let them. Our thoughts and words create our reality in a very real way, and we are only just discovering in the West the power of the mind and the difference it can make to the body.
I asked Becky to explain how important this principle can be, and what power these unhelpful judgements can have over us. Here is what she said:

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The Mindful Runner Part 2 - in the present moment

The Mindful Runner Part 2 - in the present moment

What do we mean by mindful fitness? How about running with greater awareness, more mental presence and focus?

In my last newsletter I wrote a piece on running mindfully 'on purpose. ' Read the full text here on my blog.

According to Jon Kabat-Zinn...

"mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way;

on purpose,

in the present moment,

and

non judgmentally."

Have you ever been running, say in a race or a challenging run, and suddenly realised you can't remember Runnjng the last mile because your mind was elsewhere? That's an example of mindlessness. Mindfulness can help us be fully focussed in the present moment where we are, whatever we are doing. Wouldn't it be great if our running really helped us leave unhelpful thoughts and the stress of our busy lives behind.

How do we enhance and develop this 'being present?'

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London Marathon vs Fairfield Horseshoe Fell Race

London Marathon vs Fairfield Horseshoe Fell Race

From one of the best City Marathons in the world, to a classic Cumbrian fell race. I ran a totally contrasting challenge just 3 weeks after the London Marathon. You can read my blog on the London Marathon here. 

Fairfield was a totally different (and wonderful) experience. These photos testify to the amazing views.

fairfield3

I really enjoyed the race, finding the challenge of the incredibly steep hills and technical ground a refreshing change from flat tarmac. I'm not as well practised on technical downhill at the moment (never my strength anyway). This meant all my overtaking was confined to the smooth grassy and bridleway sections.

 

Here is my attempt at comparing the two events, if that's possible. 

londonvsfairfield

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The Mindful Runner Part 1 - Running Mindfully and On Purpose

The Mindful Runner Part 1 - Running Mindfully and On Purpose

Chi Running and Walking are more than just a way of moving our bodies, more than a running technique. They are a way of practicing being present in each moment of our lives.

Are you interested in finding more relaxed flow and focus in your running? Do you want to explore ways to mentally and physically get 'in the zone?'

With Chi Running, I think about how I can apply the principles to my whole lifestyle, not just running and walking.

How can we cultivate a deeper awareness of the unity between mind and body?

According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way:

  • On purpose
  • In the present moment
  • Non judgementally

 

In this short discussion, I'm going to explore what we mean by 'On Purpose.'

On purpose means we make a choice. To me, paying attention on purpose means setting your mind intentionally on a specific ChiRunning focus. You can start by choosing a focus from the Chi Running book, Ch Walking or Chi Marathon book. If you've worked with an instructor, try watching your video analysis again and considering whether the advice is still current.

Do you know what focus is currently affecting your running efficiency or would help you relax more as you walk? If not, it's a case of reviewing a few of the possible focusses and then listening to your body to find a focus.

Find triggers in your day to remind you of the focus. When your trigger is clicked, go back to your focus and concentrate your mind and body on it for a period of about 60 seconds. Ideas for triggers ... Maybe it's going to be every time someone says your name, every time you run last a lamp post, or every time you look in the rear view mirror of your car. Whatever your trigger, as you become more experienced at focusing 'on purpose' you will find things start to become more automatic. You may be work on pairs of focusses together, or even choose a mental focus to help release tension and anxiety from your whole mind and body, your whole emotional state whilst you are running.

How else can we learn to be more purposeful in our running? A few pointers:

Make a plan and stick to it. We clear and decisive. When you have made a decision then don't let tired thoughts drag you away from it. Stay positive and you will go a long way! If you plan to run up a particular hill, run up it.  If you plan to run fast, know your Chi Running focusses for running at that speed and stick to them. If you get tired, know which focusses will help restore your energy whilst you are running. If you really can't stick to your plan, adjust or reduce the intensity and stick to the revised target.

Keep coming back to the basics. Whatever focus you have chosen, try starting the first part of your run by lengthening from the crown of your head and feeling the ground inder your feet as you settle in to the right amount of lean for whatever Chi Running 'gear' you have chosen to run in. Use this focus to get grounded. If it's a long run such as an ultra, you will probably need to come back to this grounding focus as various points during the run. Remember to run from your centre.

When your mind wanders (and it will) just keep bringing it back to the focus you have chosen.

Coming soon, The Mindful Runner Part 2, 'In The Present Moment'

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Where to find me

 

I live in the Holme Valley, near Huddersfield and on the very northern edge of the Peak District National Park. Workshops are in venues easily accessible from:

Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds, Bradford, Liverpool, Huddersfield, Halifax, Wakefield, Barnsley, Cumbria, West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, Derbyshire and North Wales.

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Mountain Training
I am a qualified Mountain Leader, registered with the Mountain Training Association.

Photos of the Holme Valley Landscape are by Andy Leader of Made in Holmfirth

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UKA Leadership in Running Fitness qualified.

I'm UKA Leadership in Running Fitness qualified.