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 :)

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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Holme Moss Fell Race 2014 - a review of my race from a Chi Running technique perspective

The 20th of July found me running my 3rd Holme Moss Fell Race. The course has 3300ft of ascent over 18 miles of rugged moorland in the beautiful Peak District. 
Chi Running principles involve focusing on alignment and relaxation, and so these became my main aims for the race. Given that I had competed minimum training I knew that using technique to preserve energy would be vital. This course is varied, with a few seconds of  unrunnable, rocky hillside sections, especially in the first half. My main tactic was to preserve energy on some key sections, applying power and energy to run faster on other strategic sections eg. The descent from Tooleyshaw Moss and the return from Black Hill to Holme Moss. Also, I wanted to remain strong for the final scramble up a steep valley side at Ramsden Clough before the final 1.5 miles to the finish.
After setting off I found myself behind a large group of lead runners who I had no desire to keep up with.  Just behind me were another large group of runners. I held my own on the way to Holme Moss summit, focusing on lengthening my spine and  maintaining a good head position with the right amount of lean for the various different gradients. 

 Race Route trace:


Using my upper body to shift the work away from my legs was going to be important as the ascents were extremely challenging. I used the Chi Running technique for gradual up hill, adjusting my lean and stride length as well as engaging obliques and upper body. This worked well in the main, and I reached Holme Moss in about 38 minutes, feeling fresh. 
After passing Holme Moss there was a steep descent and then a hands and feet scramble up to Tooleyshaw Moss. This was climbing pure and simple, no running technique was involved! 
Then came a nice springy decent to Crowden on wide boggy paths. There were times here where I was able to bring in some downhill technique to good effect. I also used y-chi to focus on distant points. The issue here was keeping an eye on the technical nature of the path whilst still staying focused on distant features to use add mental targets. I will continue to work on exercises to train my peripheral vision. 
An energy gel and water at Crowden and off to the steepest sections - Bareholme Moss and the legendary ascent of Laddow Rocks.  
These required pushing down on my knees with my hands and keeping my upper body and centre of gravity add far forward as possible. When I got this right, I felt I was using my lower legs as little as could be expected given the severity of the climbs. Local knowledge and training on the course paid off here as I was able to find a decent line. Another energy gel ... the side of Laddow Rocks was more climbing than walking in places! 
2 hours in to the race, I was conscious that the rest of the course was mainly runnable, but had I paced the first half right?
A lot of runners had already told me that they were not looking forward to the next ascent, Black Hill. I know that section well, and was able to settle in to a more determined pace. Then the heat really started to kick in. The wide open moors started to feel distinctly oven like. I was hoping to use more of a lean and create some speed on that section, however I felt preserving energy was important in the heat. A group of runners just ahead were visible all the way up Black Hill, but started to pull away during the intricate weaving through peat hags on the return to Holme Moss summit. Another energy gel. 
I was expecting to feel strong in the return to Ramsden Clough,  and was on track to get close to my target time of about 3:35. For some reason I was starting to feel tired?! The downhill section to Ramsden Clough felt like it was getting longer as I continued. I kept going, mindful of my cadence and posture, determined to maintain mental focus no matter what.
Just the small matter of running straight up the banking and then 1.5 miles to the finish. I say run up the banking. .. It was pulling up the heather using your hands. One poor chap asked if we had anything for cramp. Another runner asked where he was cramping. The reply? "Everywhere! "
I reached the top and was glad to find Phil with water. A nice bonus, thanks Phil. One final push needed.
Despite not catching any of those ahead of me I ran well on the final 1.5 miles, focusing to posture and arm swing to achieve decent split times. I finished with a personal best time. This still wasn't the time I'd hoped for, but I'd not gone the whole distance in training and I'm sure the heat made a big difference to everyone. 

Here is me finishing the race - good to see my rear leg lifting nicely behind me:

A Chi Running finish to the Holme Moss Fell Race
It was a great event, and one I intend to make an annual event. What did I learn? On a course like this, knowing the route really well is extremely useful. I'd like to do even more training on it next year. I also need to work on the Cartworth to Holme Moss section before the race. Chi Running wise, I'm convinced I need to train longer and slower ahead of my next long race, the High Peak 40 in September.

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Relaxed and Enjoy .... Britain's most brutal race!

I went to watch the leading runners cross the A635 / Greenfield Road checkpoint of The Spine race today (known locally as the Isle of Skye.) Fortunately my house is less than 10 mins from this Checkpoint, so we followed the runners using the online tracking and got the hot chocolate ready until they were a few mins away from the road. I run that section recularly, so I had a good idea when they would cross the road.spinerunner crossing Dean Clough

The runners had set off in some bad weather early this morning from Edale. They face either the full 268 miles of running all the way to Scotland - thats the whole of the Pennine Way - or the Challenger race (the 'Fun Run' option ?!!) which is just 100 miles to Hawes. I walked this when I was 19 in 19 days. Last year the finishing times were between 5 and 7 days (!) for the full race. Back in my teens, people spoke about doing the whole route in about a week as a light weight walk.

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Stanbury Splash Fell Race: A review of my race from a Chi Running perspective

(For the benefit of those outside northern England, fell running refers to running up and back down the hills / mountains of that region.)

So, it's January and 337 runners meet up out on the icy, snow covered Yorkshire Moors to race! Let's go... I must admit I felt a little intimidated by the appearance of the opposition (after all, many were wearing shorts and a running vest... in SUB ZERO temperatures...) My first temptation was to launch in to the fastest start I could manage. However, thoughts in the back of my head about even paced running encouraged me to concentrate on a steadier start, saving myself for the bridleway about 1/2 a mile in where I would start to pick off the competition a little.

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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.

 Imonhandpickedtrails



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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As seen in Runners World

UKA Leadership in Running Fitness qualified.

I'm UKA Leadership in Running Fitness qualified.