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 :)

High Peak 40 Mile Challenge 2014 - a Chi Runner's review

Phew! I just completed my first Ultra Marathon.
 
Why did I enter?
When I took up Chi Running a few years ago, I had made a decision to run regularly and be determined about becoming injury free - hence Chi Running. Chi Running was developed by Danny Dreyer, an ultra runner from the U.S. and together with stories of ultra running from various books such as Feet In The Clouds by Richard Asquith (see my blog) and Born To Run (see my blog) I guess I couldn't resist entering an event like this eventually.
Friends also inspired me to run an ultra (thanks Wil) and I guess I've been through a process of breaking through mental boundary after mental boundary over the last through few years. I hadn't done a marathon before this event, but I had taken on a succession of long fell races including the Holme Moss Race, the Three Peaks Race, and various Dark and White Challenge events. My aim would be to complete the race and be comfortable the next day.
 
How did I prepare?
I'm not the only person in my family wanting to train and take part in leisure, so I knew from the start that training for long hours and mileage wasn't going to happen. Also, I was coming back from some time off after an operation, so was mindful that I didn't want to over train. After completing the Holme Moss Fell Race in July I put 4 long training runs in the diary. 15, 18, 22 and 30. It wasn't ideal in terms of gradual progress, but I was determined to get to the 30 mile distance in training. Also, I had easier weeks after each long run in order to allow my body to recover. During August I ran a total of 102 miles. This seems pathetic compared to the distance that many do in preparation for events like marathons, however it was the most intensive month of my life and it would need to suffice. Worrying about inadequate training would be counter productive, and experience told me that I could run for many hours in the hills without needing to stop.
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Finding Ultra by Rich Roll - a book review from a Chi Running perspective?

I got a few comments on my last blog about diet and exercise - thanks folks. It's interesting that diet, and the question of whether to change what we eat, is a topic very close to our hearts. I did make an assumption our diet isn't perfect in my last blog on this subject. I should perhaps have clarified that it all goes by comparison. (And, of course, I'm not a nutritional expert but the ideal diet is different for different people.)

Personally I notice that most people don't tend to place much importance on the benefits of diet to enhance their performance in their exercise, and to help live a whole and fulfilled life. The reason I would suggest a high standard for our diet as runners is after reading a few books recently which tell the story of how diet has transformed peoples running. The first was Finding Ultra, by Rich Roll. The book is very challenging and throws up a lot of questions about what makes an effective diet for an athlete.

The subtitle of the book is 'Rejecting middle age, becoming one of the world's fittest men, and discovering myself.' Rich talks through the total transformation in his lifestyle after a 'eureka' moment when he realised he was shortening his life and he needed to make some huge changes. What follows is amazing, at times hard to believe and incredibly inspiring. He participates in some of the most gruelling endurance events imaginable. Within this journey he stops eating meat, but changes his diet far far more than that. The result is what he calls the Plant Power diet. The advice and tips he gives along the way show how it is possible to drop those energy gels and sports drinks and go natural. I for one would really love to start fuelling myself with something a lot more like the Rich Roll way. The book, including the appendices, are packed with advice on how to change your diet.

Finding Ultra

If you don't like people telling you what to do, don't read this book. If I have any criticism it would be that the author is quite pushy with his beliefs in diet. He is evangelical about what he believes is the right way forward for everyone - but then you would be if your life has been transformed in the way his has.

What I find fascinating is the incredible transformation in Rich's athletic performance which was brought about by changes in his diet. You could say this was because he was on such a bad diet in the first place, but I don't think it is just that.

The stories of endurance in the book are absolutely inspiring and worth reading for anyone who is considering endurance running of any kind. I love the way they make the 'normal' efforts runners go to look so small. I don't look at running for 4 hours in the same way at all any more.

So what has all this got to do with Chi Running? Well (these are my personal opinions of course.) Chi Running advocates a mindful and holistic approach to our whole life. The Chi Running Book has a section on diet. Chi Running is, I would say, mindful running - it's a holistic practice. And you can't separate that from the other aspects - diet, mental, emotional, spiritual etc. So Rich's whole approach to life is a journey in to discovery about this holistic, mindful approach. I'd say if you were in to Chi-Living, then you'd really get on well with the Rich Roll way of living.

Something else that really attracted me to the book is the spiritual journey which Rich follows. More about that in a later blog.

Read this book if you are interested in nutrition, and if you enjoy stories of human endurance and transformation.
Don't read it if you prefer not to be preached at.

If you want to read more:

http://www.richroll.com/

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Gradual Progress ... a personal reflection

I’ve started my ultra training … by walking for 5 minutes. I had an operation 8 weeks ago (not running related) and I was told not to run for 8 weeks. I asked if I could walk and was told exercise would promote my recovery (?!) As a Chi Runner, I immediately explained about low impact, relaxed techniques and the four gears of Chi Running. I asked ‘can I run if it barely alters my breath rate?’ and got the answer I was looking for.

And so I found myself, 2 days after the operation able to walk for 5 minutes at a pace that was far too slow for my 7 year old daughter (but she didn’t mind.)

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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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Book Review: 'Running High' by Hugh Symonds

This book is an autobiographical account of the first continuous traverse of all 303 Mountains of Britain and Ireland. And guess what? He did it all uninjured!

Everyone should read a few books like this one, whether you run, walk, or neither. 2000 miles in 97 days, half a million feet of mountains, 277 Munros, 4 English tops, 15 Welsh Peaks + 7 Irish Summits. How about that for expanding your horizons. I must say, along with Born to Run and a couple of other books, this one really helped me shift my own personal horizons and beliefs considerably. I kept catching myself thinking thinks like "If Hugh can run 2000 miles, surely 20.... or 30.... or 40 wouldn't be that far... especially if you take our the mountains." This achievement makes running the Bob Graham Round look small fry.

The book is written mainly in diary style and is accompanied by

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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

Freedom To Run Newsletter

As seen in Runners World

UKA Leadership in Running Fitness qualified.

I'm UKA Leadership in Running Fitness qualified.