Freedom To Run - Ease, Efficiency, Speed

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

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

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'

I absolutely loved the whole experience of training for and running the London Marathon.

I normally run and compete on hilly trails and fells, so this was a bit of a departure. I found myself really enjoying my training sessions because running on the flat is so easy compared with running off road and on hills. From a Chi Running perspective, doing most of my running on the flat meant I could really get a strong sense of running from my centre, and allowing my running to feel like a controlled fall. Getting lean right and using that to create and control speed became much easier during these sessions. This lovely feeling of floating along is what Chi Running is all about and it brought back the reality to me that Chi Running is best practised at a slow pace on the flat. This really helps bring out the joy and effortless of the technique.

 

London Marathon and Marathon Running tips

The following are my own points to myself for next time. I hope they help you too. They are very much a collection of things I've read and conversations with people, so it's nothing too new really. Advice to myself for next time...

Before the event

Blue Start, London Marathon

Race specific training. I very much believe in training on routes that are as similar as possible to the race you are doing. Therefore I got serious about long flag runs - hard to find in Yorkshire. If I'm doing a 5 mile steep race that starts up a hill, make sure I train on the course or on a similar route, so the same principle applies whether it's a matathon, a night race or whatever.

Photo 20150410195603594

My Protein sent me some of this to try out, and here are my thoughts.

When I read the packaging I couldn't believe the scoop size needed to use this powder. I started looking at the measuring spoons in my kitchen. Then I found the v absolutely tiny scoop inside the packet. "This is going to last for ages" were my first thoughts. To compare, a big scoop larger than an egg cup was needed for the last electrolyte powder I used. It's going to last for AGES.

Photo 20150410195603872
 

It's supposed to be flavourless, however I am lucky and have delicious Yorkshire Water coming out of my tap and so I confess I do notice a slight taste. No problem though as I'll just drink it with my daily fruit juice, or with water and don't worry about the taste. In comparison other electrolyte I've tried has had it's own taste anyway so I guess it's personal preference. You might prefer tablets or flavoured powder, but you're not going to beat this for value for money. Some electrolytes are sold in single dose sachets, this pouch will go on for many, many doses.

Does it seem to 'work?' Tough to tell but I'm marathon training at the moment and I've not suffered any signs of dehydrating on my long runs so that's a thumbs up from me.

Photo 20150410195604101

My Protein gave me some of this product to try. I've already purchased some more of my own. There are various discount offered here if you fancy some: http://www.myprotein.com/voucher-codes.list

 

 

 

 

When I was out running the other day, a friend asked me how Chi Running helps to focus your mind. I explained how I think I use my mind as much, if not more than by body when I am running. My intention is to stay in the present moment, using my mind to listen to and focusing my body in order to become more aligned and relaxed (and ultimately more efficient.) I went on to explain that energy flow and chi are about, for the runner, trying to find that special moment where 'everythign just clicks' and you have a fantastic run. We're setting up the conditions for energy to flow - but what does that really mean? This got me thinking about how to explain mindfulness to those who are less familiar with these concepts. Let's start with the word mindfulness as for me, Chi Running and Chi Walking are about mindful exercise.

Mindfulness comes from Buddhism, however the idea of living with an attitude of gratitude and thankfulness has a wider religious and non religious bases. Secular techniques have now been developed and mindfulness is taught across the whole of society for many different reasons. The word itself can get in the way, so why not pick a word from this list that suits you and forget about the jargon?!

Is technique important in running?

Is the mental side of things important?

Are the mental and physical parts of ourselves interlinked?

Most people would answer yes to all these questions, but few have explored the combination of the two, or indeed the link between exercise and the spiritual side of their life.

From long distance pilgrims, to marathon running monks, the spiritual and physical are not separate in any sense. Focussing the breath and focussing the mind are some examples of how exercise and spiritual practises can be linked together by those seeking to explore these links.

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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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I'm UKA Leadership in Running Fitness qualified.