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