Well done to everyone who took part in the recent Dublin City Marathon and Dingle Marathon what a fantastic achievement! For others you might be starting a training plan for next year's Cork City Marathon or another marathon, there's so many now-a-days!
No matter what marathon is coming up for you, here's some advice for marathon day....
Don't get caught up in the surge of the runners in take off, if you do, check yourself, pull back and slow down, you've 26.2 miles yet to go!!
Stay focused on your technique throughout the race to avoid fatigue setting in prematurely.
Put some Himalayan Salt in one of your water bottles or use an electrolyte tablet. Put half isotonic drink and half water in another water bottle.
Relax, relax, relax and enjoy the race, look around you, enjoy the cheering spectators, they'll drive you on.
There's nothing like an incentive to get you to the finish line be it your favourite meal or a treat of some sort like a spa day!
Click here for some great advice from my fellow ChiRunning instructor Catherina McKiernan.
Click here for some more great advice from my other fellow ChiRunning instructor Mary Jennings of Forget the Gym.
Have you ever thought about the way you stand or checked to see how it may be affecting your running?
Think about it, if your upper body tends to lean backwards (against gravity) it may cause pressure on your lower back day to day, but as a runner it will mean you have to work extra hard as you'll need greater propulsion to move forward on flat terrain. Going up hills will be even harder!
I've worked with many runners who are totally unaware they are leaning backwards, they're convinced they're upright until you show them a photo of themselves and as we know a picture never lies.
So stand the way you normally do beside a mirror (to the side) and check the way your standing. If you're upper body is leaning back you will need to start teaching it to be upright. Come along to one of the listed chirunning workshops as the first part focuses on getting your alignment, balance and static stance correct.
So don't let the way your standing hold you back, make it work for your running.
To all the new runners out there here's a couple of quick pointers....
1. Get proper running gear it's everywhere now from cheap to expensive, don't wear your heavy cotton track suits and hoodies. Also invest in a baseball hat (keeps the rain off your face) and a windcheaters (keeps the sharp wind at bay) in the cold winter days.
2. Less is more! I know you might be looking out at a bleak blustery day but as you run your body temperature will go up and you'll start to melt wearing too much clothes and then you have to dump it or carry it.
3. Don't hold items in your hand like your mobile or water bottle as it can cause and contribute to shoulder rotation which is very hard to get rid of later when you realize your doing it. Get yourself a water belt and get used to it, you don't have to carry all bottles you can reduce it to two as long as they're balanced either side. You don't even have to fill them up fully. Otherwise you can put your bottle somewhere on your loop. But if you keep yourself nicely hydrated throughout the day and if you're running less than 50 - 60 minutes then you probably won't need water at all until after your run.
4. Use a short stride and a high cadence (SPM min 85 per stride or 170 for both) this will reduce heel strike and is more energy efficient.
5. Don't forget to use your arms!
6. Look straight ahead, not at the ground and not at the sky, just scan the path ahead.
7. Listen to your body, body sense what's going on while your running, don't overdo it especially in the early stages of running but don't be too easy on yourself too, set yourself targets!
8. The sooner you make running part of your lifestyle the sooner it becomes second nature and give yourself credit after your run for getting up and out there. Well done!
While you're getting ready to go out for your run and during your pre-run body looseners have your metronome set at your desired cadence level so that by the time you head off on your run, the cadence rhythm is well established in your body, that way you'll take off at the cadence you want to achieve.
Remember the clip on metronome is ideal for keeping you at the same cadence level regardless of the terrain, so when you meet those upward hills you don't slow down!
To feel like your running effortlessly, avoid running injuries and be more energy efficient (so you can run farther or in shorter time), you need to be practicing the combined chi running focuses.
When you're learning chi running it takes time to combine the focuses as it can be easier to practice some of the focuses on their own (like the armswing, posture or y'chi) and others together (like the posture, ankle lift and knee bend). Initially while you will enjoy the benefit of the posture focus or rear armswing focus on it's own, it's really when you manage to combine the totality of focuses that you will glide along effortlessly, it's a real AHA moment!
So in the early stages of learning the chi running technique, before you go for your run, decide what focuses you're going to practice on each run. If it's a short run you might practice just one or two focuses separately or together. If it's a long run you might practice all the focuses every 10 - 15 minutes (use your watch timer to beep) and at the end of the run practice all the focuses combined. If you've attended a workshop, the chirunning App will really help.
Like learning anything new, you will progress gradually and your running will start to become more effortless and in time when you go out one day and you automatically combine all the focuses, you just won't know yourself.
Running using all the focuses together is the key!
Next time you're out on a run, scan your body to see if you're running using the combination of all focuses or are you only using some of them. If it's the latter, identify the ones you're not using and gradually incorporate them into your running.
At last some sunshine! Use your shadow to check in on your running technique....
Running with the sun directly behind you will place your shadow right in front of you which makes it easy to check what's going on with your shoulders and armswing especially for those of your with shoulder rotation and imbalance in your armswing.
Running with the sun right beside you will place your shadow along side you where you can easily check your lean, posture and armswing.
....it's great, just like a running buddy checker, I love it :-)
When you're Chi Running your center of body mass (Dantien) is ahead of your feet when you're in your support stance and you should feel like you’re gently falling forward as you run, but remember it is a controlled fall.
So when you're in your one legged stance your center should be ahead of your feet. But if your Dantien is above your feet it means that you’re pulling yourself forward with your hamstrings and you’re not leaning and not taking advantage of the pull of gravity, assisted propulsion.
Remember use the body sensing technique to feel like you’re gently falling forward.