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 :)

Butt Walk.. no really.

Hey! This looks really silly but I bet it works really well. I'm going to add it to my core exercises and see how it goes.

 

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Finding the balance

Guess what? Being kind to and looking after your body is important. It turns out that massive mileage every week isn't the key to good health according to this video.

In these studies, the runners live longer... but over 25 miles per week, you loose the benefits... and multi marathon running over decades is not good for you! The 'more is better' idea doesn't carry on for ever... the benefits plateau out.

Take a look at what happened to Micah True of 'Born To Run' fame. Hmm... some interesting points!

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Relaxed Chi Walking on Rails... snow rails!

A great week for walking and running. There are SO many different focusses in Chi Running and Chi Walking. That's why I enjoy the mindful approach, and also one that demonstrates patience, and kindness to yourself. There's no rush, and you can't possibly get everything right all at once. With all these different areas to consider in your form, I've been trying to find ways to use nature to prompt me and remind me to correct my form, rather than relying on beeps and timers.

There is a running focus and a walking focus where you pretend you are 'on rails.' The idea being that you align your feet and entire legs as if you are running or walking along railway lines.

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Mindfulness in the snow

I had a couple of really great mindful experiences this week, running off road in the snow at night. Thursday night was particularly magical. Snowy trails through Honley Wood, and not a soul apart from myself. There seemed to be absolute silence and stillness around me. All I could hear was my own breath and my crunching feet. And at quite a few moments I could actually hear the snowflakes brushing on my face and clothing as they landed.

It was great to take my mind off my running and be attentive of all that was around me. In return, I'm sure focussing on the snowflakes and the silence helped me to relax and concentrate on my running focusses when it felt right to do that. It was really nice to let my mind change from my environment, to my body, and then back again without a beeping stop watch (which I often find disturbs my thinking.)

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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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Playing around and thinking about focus

One of my favourite running workouts now is just a 'fun run.' I head about and just play around with form and speed depending on the terrain and how I feel. Today I my 6 mile run included 2km flat out in 'gear 3,' some hill work, gear 1 and 2 work mucking around with my lean and arm swing. It's good (and probably best) to just one form focus for a run. But sometimes it's good to relax, no pressure, and just have a play,not worry if your mind wanders. For me, this makes for a very relaxing and enjoyable run. There are loads of ideas in the chi running book for different focuses that you can use.

I used to feel bit frustrated when I lost concentration whilst running. On a 5k race, or a

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Chi Walking by Danny and Katherine Dreyer - thoughts on Chapter 1

I just love the way Danny is a total and complete evangelist for the health benefits of walking in this chapter. He shares some of his personal experiences  walking and it really strikes me that he is totally passionate about walking. In fact, it got me thinking about my own life. As a child, I used to go walking in the Shropshire hills with my brothers and sister. As I got older I explored Snowdonia, Scotland and the Lake District with my father. As soon as I could be trusted (!) I was leading groups of friends on wild camping trips along long distance footpaths such as The Ridgeway. Then I completed he West Highland Way and the Pennines Way in 1994. I can vividly remember waiting for a day in Kendal the days after finishing the Pennine Way. I really had nothing to do and my legs felty so 'wrong' doing nothing after walking hills every day for 19 days. The solution? I walked the whole length of the town to Kendal castle and back... I just

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Why on earth are you doing that? I could never do that...

Those were the words somebody said to me tonight as I set out for a run.

These are a few personal thoughts on this subject and I really do hope they don't come across as judgemental, as I really do understand that different people are in different places mentally and physically.

I used to think like that about the kind of running people who you see running around the Holme Valley, where I live. I was aware of races such as the Holme Moss Race (25.5 km and 1285m of Climb of some of the toughest terrain around) and also the Holmfirth 15 (yes, 15 miles!) As you drive around the Holme Valley you see a lot of very fit people out running. And the hills are steep round here. Very steep. It's so easy to think that must be impossible. But remember that the words we say to ourselves inside our heads have a very good habit of becoming true for us, both on the positive side and the negative side.

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Core Work ... Video 2

Well I just had a go at this. I won't blog my results they are so appalling! I will promise to share my improvements though, in about 2 weeks time + what benefit this has on my running. Danny makes this exercise look SO easy...!

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Understanding energy flow - a personal perspective

There is a lot of talk in the Chi Running world about energy, flow, cotton and steel etc. These concepts come from marshall arts / yoga / eastern thinking and can be quite hard to relate to if you are grounded in western thinking. I come from a Christian perspective, but have also studied philosophy and values in the way it relates to adventure and the outdoors. Here are a few thoughts from the latter perspective.

A chat thread on Facebook in a Chi Running Group got me thinking today. Nick Constantine mentioned that he thinks there is a 3-5 year learning curve with running, where you go through an apprentice phase, craft person phase and then mastery phase. I really do agree. This talk of phases for me connected with ideas discussed in 'The Adventure Alternative' by Colin Mortlock, where he discusses

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Side Plank Core Muscle Exercise

Well I'm just taking a step back from running for a few days to reflect and meanwhile I'm doing some core muscles exercises and cross training. Boy do I need that core work! Who has had a go at this exercise, and how well do you do?

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Core Work ... Video 1

OK so I'm going to discipline myself to work with this exercise. Who else can do it at to what degree? What benefits do you find from Yoga / Pilates / Core work?

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Technique... technique.... technique....

Have a read of this. http://www.theendurancestore.com/blog/footstrike/2012/12/28/technique-threshold-may-be-the-key-to-unlocking-your-running-potential/

It's a very thought provoking article. One quote stands out to me: "Fact: the above scenario is 100% realistic as we’ve tested hundreds of runners in the lab and there are plenty of people with high VO2, poor running style and subsequent poor 10k time."

He says speed and technique don't go together. He also advocates listening to your body,

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Why don't we think about the way we run?

There are countless examples of training plans for races on the internet. Just google them or check an example like this one http://www.lucozade.com/perform/running/half-marathon/. These plans all focus on speed, power and building up miles / time on the legs. The Chi Running book calls this 'Power Running.'

But is this really all we need to do to improve as a runner? I suppose if you just happen to have the ideal running style then you can just stick to the plan and expect everything to click in to place. Personally I know loads of runners who do massive mileage each week or do a lot of interval training etc and see disappointing improvement or experience injury problems.

So this leads me to believe that concentrating on our running technique, or form,

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Book Review: Born to Run (Christopher McDoughall)

Born to Run: The Hidden Tribe, the Ultra-Runners, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen

This book is absolutely fascinating. I love the stories Doughall unearths in this book as he rubs shoulders with some of the world's ultra running elite. The underlying theme in the book is 'Why do runners get injured and is that really inevitable?' Whilst this theme is explored, the reader is drawn in to a compelling story set in the Tarahumara tribe of Mexico. Along the way, descriptions of some of the toughest running events in the world are described such as the Leadville 100. The accounts of the mental attitudes of the Tarahumara tribe towards running are truly amazing and something which all runners should. They are guaranteed to change the way you think about distance and endurance.

The book also takes us right back to our ancestors to

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An Introduction to Chi Running - A Video Playlist

I just created this video play list which makes a nice introduction to Chi Running. Take a look (Use the controls at the bottom to flick between the 4 videos):

 

 

My personal favourite one is the final video. I love how Danny explains how Chi Running is about cooperating with the laws of gravity. Who can argue with that?

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What is Chi Running?

I may not be the best person to answer this, but here is my take on it. Each of these points all need expanding on, but having read around the subject and enjoyed a coaching day with the excellent Nick Constantine, I would say they form the framework of the technique.

  • Uses good posture and varying degrees of lean as part of it's technique
  • Uses gravity as your power source, not muscle strength / power

Uses mindfulness

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Why Chi Running?

I have always been very active in the outdoors, and often run on a regular basis. However there have only been two periods of time when I upped the demand on my body and did a lot more regular weekly running. The first such time was when I was at University in Ambleside. I started doing early morning training runs. Here is an example of what I used to do. It was nothing too strenuous really, just one or two 1 hour runs a week. After a few weeks this caused knee pain consistently in my patella tendons. Being younger and also occupied with other outdoor activities I stopped running. Such a shame! I lived in the Lake District for 5 years, and never really experienced the joy of running through the mountains.

Then, after a long break (It's now 2010) with only occasional running I started to train at a faster pace

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Well Let's Get Started!

Hi folks.

Well I’ve decided to move towards being a Chi Running instructor. For some time I’ve wanted to be more creative with the way I spend my time and earn my money, so I thought it would be good to mix things up a bit and this is what I came up with. The whole idea of this blog is that is describes my philosophy, my background thinking and my journey as a runner.

Who knows? One day this site might be sitting alongside my own Chi Running / Walking and Outdoor Journeys business.

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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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UKA Leadership in Running Fitness qualified.

I'm UKA Leadership in Running Fitness qualified.