Thursday, March 21, 2013

Chi Running Updates

I continue to practice Chi Running.  One of my Red Rock Relay teammates took photos of me while I was actually running.  These are my first visual images of me actually using the technique.

It looks like I’m striking a little too far forward here, column out of whack, and not leaning at all.  These are probably related.  My arms seem to be in the correct position, as does my back foot. 
I can see myself leaning – at least a little – in the shot at the right. 

The verdict – I need more practice with the technique.  The reality – I will always need practice with the technique.  The good news – I felt great running my 12.6 miles of the relay and did so without injury. 

Which brings me to the second Chi Running update:  I received a press release from ChiLiving, Inc. about a recent study comparing Chi Running to three other running styles.  The press release is dated February 8, 2013.  Ouch.  I guess I really need to check the email address I set up specifically for this blog a little more frequently.  That said, it’s still terrific news about Chi Running.


 A recent 1-year study at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill* shows that the ChiRunning ( technique was found to produce less impact and less breaking force, when compared with three other common styles of running.

The study, A Comparison of Lower Extremity Joint Work and Initial Loading Rates among Four Different Running Styles, (Goss, 2012) compared four common types of running styles. Of the four styles studied, the ChiRunning technique was the most effective at reducing both the overall impact and the rate of impact. Participants practicing ChiRunning benefited from:

  • ·         Lower Impact - reduces the cause of the most common running injury, "runner's knee"
  • ·         A smoother landing - reduces sudden impact that leads to stress fractures in the feet, lower legs and hips.
  • ·         Less Knee Extension - reduces the common problem of over-striding which produces the "braking effect" that often leads to "runner's knee"
  • ·         Less Braking Force upon impact with the ground, making for a much more efficient run.

"The recent UNC study scientifically confirms years of our clinical experience", says Dr. William Mullins at the Center for Rheumatic Diseases and Osteoporosis in Bethesda, Maryland. "ChiRunning is a unique running style that causes less stress for lower extremity joints and supporting structures than any other running technique. I routinely recommend the ChiRunning workshops or DVDs for my patients who run for exercise."

Additionally, and contrary to some running experts' beliefs, the study also shows that low-impact, more efficient running technique can be learned, and that runners can improve their technique to reduce the potential for injury.

About Chi Living:
ChiRunning, the mindful movement created by Danny Dreyer and Katherine Dreyer is a brand that goes beyond the popular book titles, Chi Running, Chi Walking and the new Chi Marathon. The ancient practice of T'ai Chi and its philosophy of moving from the core infuse all of the ChiLiving offerings, including their books, DVDs, audio programs, classes and workshops. These mindful principles support groups and individuals to make healthier, long-term training choices. (

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Red Rock Relay

I was totally thrilled when my friend Sue invited me to be a part of her team for the Red Rock Relay Dixie on March 9, 2013.  I’d never done a relay, but it sounded like fun – and in sunny and warm St. George to boot.  Our team was age-diverse, with two sixty-something’s, two fifty-something’s, a 40 and a 30.  We named ourselves "Girls Day Out."  We ordered team shirts.  We planned for an 11 minute mile pace, set out to training, and dreamed of the sunny weather that St. George is famous for.

Race day arrived the same day a major cold front swept through Southern Utah.  Instead of the 70 degree temps we were expecting, we arrived at the race check-in to 40's and pouring rain.  Red Rock Relay tank tops and t-shirts stayed on the tables as runners flocked to buy sweatshirts and long-sleeved base layer tops.  

Only one of our runners actually felt rain on her face at the start of the race. The rest of us were treated to overcast skies and varying winds.  The shorts and tech shirts we had all been waiting to wear stayed in our bags in favor of insulated base layers, long pants, and wind-resistant jackets.  Those clouds did have a silver lining – it was actually very pleasant running weather.

I didn't realize how violent a sport relay racing was until I was informed that we would be tracking our “kills.”  No guns involved; a “kill” is what happens when you pass another runner on the course.  Our first runner, who is over 60, set the bar for us by scoring 12 kills.  How?  It was quite unintentional – she wasn't quite ready with her iPod on the start gate, and started about a minute after everyone else did.  She passed nearly every runner on the first leg.  Youth and strength don’t stand a chance against age and treachery. 

Nor do they stand a chance against age and training.  I was passed early in my first leg by a twenty-something who made sure I knew I was on the receiving end of a kill.  I cheered her on and kept going.  I caught her on the hill.  She stopped to walk – and I ran past.  I really hope my smile at her was a smile and not the smug smirk I was feeling on the inside.  She never caught up with me.

There’s absolutely nothing like having a support team with you when you run.  The rest of the team, in the Chevy Trailblazer that was our sitting room, restaurant, and lifeline during the 10 hour 16 minutes it took us to run the relay, stopped several times for each runner, cheering and offering water as the runner passed.  Then the girls in the Trailblazer would honk and cheer as they passed the runner and moved on to the next stop.  It was fun – both cheering and being cheered. 

It turned out that we were all faster than we projected on race day.  As a team we averaged 9.6 minute miles.  Our team finished 12th out of the 33 teams that raced.  

The celebration began when we crossed the finish line together – exhilaration taking over where exhaustion probably should have been.  We had Mexican food – complete with margaritas now that the race was done, then a relaxing soak in the hot tub.  We spent the night in a condo together and relived our victory. 

Team “Girls Day Out” is already planning for next year’s relays.  We've figured out what foods work for us.  We’ll continue training on hills.  And of course, we’ll continue to have fun.  You’ll be hearing from us.

Thursday, March 7, 2013


We've now been following The Plan for 15 days, and have learned that following The Plan requires a lot more discipline than merely watching what you put into your mouth.  The menus are all based on starting with raw foods – which require cleaning at minimum.  Some require seeding, coring, and chopping.  Some even require research as to how to seed, core and chop in the first place.  Take a new favorite vegetable – butternut squash.  It’s great!  No wonder Italian restaurants everywhere put it in their ravioli.  And it’s really easy to prepare – just cube it and steam it for five minutes.

Just cube it.  There is nothing cubicle about the shape of a butternut squash.  It’s got a long neck and a little round belly – and a very thick skin.  Per Wikipedia, you cut it in half lengthwise, peel the skin, scrap out the seeds, and then cut it into bite-sized pieces.  Did I mention that the squash has a very thick skin?  Have you watched old movies of men splitting logs?  Or like me, just watched an old man splitting logs?  My largest knife became the ax.  I had to strike the counter – knife inside – with the squash twice for it to split.  Skin removal required my sharpest paring knife; seed removal was best done with a spoon, and then it was back to the “ax” for cutting it into cubes.  So after you've taken 20 – 30 minutes to prepare the squash, then you can steam it for five minutes. 

I wonder how many would-be Plan followers are scared away by all the prep time.  We are retired.  We have the time to prepare the “everything from scratch” meals and to eat every meal and snack together – for the most part.  I wonder how couples – or even individuals – follow this rigorous testing protocol while also juggling work schedules, family commitments, commutes, and the temptations of co-workers bringing donuts. 
Even our schedule has some time constraints, and of course, life happens when you’re busy making plans – or busy following The Plan.  We volunteer two evenings a week – starting at 4:30 PM.  Before we started The Plan, it was a simple thing to stop at one of the many restaurants on the way and grab a quick bite.  Now we have to plan not only our meals but our meal times to make sure we eat everything we’re supposed to for the day.  We’re planning our errands around mealtimes as well.

So we grouse about the work and the time and the discipline – but we cannot argue with the results.  My husband has lost 11 pounds so far.  My weight loss stopped after I lost five pounds – a good thing since the kids threatened to kidnap me and hold me hostage at Red Robin until I ate a cheeseburger if I kept losing weight.   We are both feeling great.  We will make it the full 20 days and beyond.