Monday, 2 July 2012

Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't

 I read somewhere that, when you start to change your running form, it can feel for a while like things are not quite fitting together.  If that's true, then I definitely must be doing something right because my last couple of runs have felt...not crap, exactly, but disjointed.  Like my body isn't working as a whole anymore.  I don't necessarily see this as a Bad Thing because, when I allow myself to fall back into my usual way of running, I'm aware of how much worse that feels than the new awkwardness.

Take my last Shetland run as an example.  It was too windy to hear my metronome and, what with the wind and the hills, I really struggled.  I knew that I was overstriding, heel striking, and shuffling - just like I have for years and years - and I had the achilles and hip pain to prove it.  My next run, once I was back home, was fine.  I kept my cadence up, focused on good posture and a strong core, and let my legs relax.  However, I got carried away and ran too fast; by the evening, my achilles tendon was tender to the touch.  Too much, too soon.

Today, I was back to struggling again.  Sore achilles on and off for the first mile and a half, not able to keep up with the metronome, slouching, overstriding...and then, for the last mile and a half, it suddenly got better.  And I had an epiphany.  I might be evolving a more healthy, sustainable, and efficient running style, but I still have the same body.  I still need to take a substantial amount of time to warm up, I still need to stretch before I run, and I still need to go slow for at least the first mile, none of which I did today.  ChiRunning is about observing, listening, and adapting according to what one's body needs on a moment by moment basis, not having a plan that must be followed at all costs.

So, here's what I've learned over the past week.  Relax.  Warm up properly and stretch before each run.  Initially turn off the metronome because I need to go slow until my body loosens up and because I find it really hard, at this stage anyway, to run slow enough with the metronome for that to happen.  Slow down even once I'm warmed up; the speed eventually will come but, for now, it's more important to allow time for my tendons and muscles to get strong. 

Sigh.  This is going to take FOREVER.  And learning lessons about 'patience' obviously will be for another week.

Kinvara 3 in white, citron, and pink
Gear update:  Ever on the lookout for opportunities to purchase nifty new shoes, I bought a pair of Saucony Kinvara 3 running shoes today with the hope that they will assist my transition to mid-foot striking.  They are between what I have always run in - stability shoes with up to a 12mm heel-toe drop - and minimalist shoes that have a drop of zero and that essentially mimic barefoot running.  The Kinvaras have a 4mm drop which, given my tight achilles tendons and calves, I'll be lucky to manage.  Still, the Chi way is all about slow and gradual changes, over years if need be, so I'll have even more to be patient about.  Hurrah!  In the meantime, I'm happy to just sit back in the moment and admire the neon citron loveliness of my new shoes. 


  1. Wow, they are rather neon, aren't they? I've always worn Saucony, as I find them such a good fit. Great to read that Chi running has been such an immediate success for you, and that the benefits are so obvious. :-)

  2. You should see them in real life - yowzer!...My shoe of choice used to be Asics, until they started faffing about with various things & created a shoe that simply didn't fit my foot any more. Sauconys fit me like the Asics used to!...I keep getting glimpses of how it might be once I'm better at this ChiRunning lark & it looks promising. If only I can stay healthy enough to actually get there!

  3. I bought the Kinvara 2 for the same purpose! Just haven't been on a short enough run yet so for now they're body pump shoes. Mine are pink - bright but not as yowzer as these.

  4. Oooh, pink would have been nice! They do a nice purple too...a couple of runs in the rain will tone down the citron!