Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Training during a time of Illness and Recovery

I don't know is it just because I had a lot of health issues the first quarter of this year associated with the Lymes (Borreliosis) illness I have that got me thinking about how best we can deal with the inability, or limited ability, to train during weeks and months when our health is poor. What should we do, or not do, as the case may be, to keep some level of training during treatment and how best to train during recovery?

I've been running a long time, preferring the longer distance, mainly half marathons but I've done the 26.2 distance and have participated in sprint triathlons where stamina is essential. But as my health deteriorated over the past ten years from a tick bite (eventually diagnosed in 2015), my energy levels gradually dropped, flu-like aches and pains steadily got worse so much so that just getting out of the bed was a real challenge and my nervous system was badly affected.

Following treatment early last year I made a significant improvement, I couldn't believe how my life improved and I got back out training and felt fantastic by the end of the year. However in January of this year further treatment set me right back, so much so, I ended up in an ambulance after a race! That was a first for me and a bit of an eye opener.

Some two months later I finally started to feel like I was turning a corner and that I was finally on the mend as I was starting to feel a little bit stronger each day.

So here's some of my advice to people with Illness as opposed to Injury and how best to approach training.....

Don't despair, I totally get how frustrating it is to be ill, but there's always hope, be positive and remember, there's always someone else out there worse off than yourself, so lets be grateful.

Try to get out and move even when you're at your worst. I would get out and walk as much as I could do comfortably and work my way up slowly and gradually. It's what kept me sane! It's far better to move the body than do nothing.

Build up gradually, about a month after my ambulance experience I went out for my usual walk and I managed to run about 1 mile for the first time in ages and I was so happy you'd swear I'd won a race and in my mind it was a huge milestone on my recovery.

Don't compare your level of fitness during illness and recovery to what you used to do before as it will just play games with your head and make you feel bad about yourself. 

Go to a light yoga, pilates or tai chi class and just let your instructor know your illness may hold you back or slow you down so that they don't push you out of your energy zone. In the meantime you will be strengthening your body for when you get better.

Keep a diary of the exercise you do, if any, and record how you felt after the exercise, what energy level you had that day. This way you can review your progress.

Listen to your body, if it's telling you to rest, obey the body, you've only got one.

Motivate yourself during recovery by signing up to a local race or Park Run, but whatever you do take it easy, race for fun and now is not the time to worry about your time.

During the recovery period don't compare yourself to others or worry about what others might be thinking of you and your running. Who cares! Nobody knows what's going on with your health and most likely they're more concerned about their own race and not yours.

Eat well, lots of vegetables, fish, lean meat and less of the sugary foods.

Consider supplements (in consultation with your doctor, consultant or practitioner) to help boost your health, but make sure if you're taking them that you're actually absorbing them otherwise your wasting money. Some supplements I take include Omega, Ionic Magnesium, Probiotics, Vitamin C, Power Greens and Ashwagandha.

Contact a recommended Herbalist and consider a trial of 2 - 3 months of a herbal tonic to treat your particular health issues. Don't forget to give them a list of any supplements you take.

Don't try to play catch-up and end up over-training in an attempt to make up for lost time. It's lost, move on. Build up relatively gradually and continue to listen to your body as you don't want to set yourself back ill again, but if you're bouncing back, savour the fast progress.

Don't be hard on yourself, be kind and reward yourself when you make positive progress and enjoy feeling fit and healthy again.

Take good care of your body don't take it for granted, mind it, care for it, nurture it, because when it's not working properly I can tell you life is very different.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Is the way you stand holding you back?

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.


Wednesday, 26 August 2015

New to Running? Here's a few quick pointers

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!

Monday, 24 August 2015

Cadence Tip

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!

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Combined Chi Running Focuses is the Key

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.

Happy ChiRunning!

Monday, 14 April 2014

Use your shadow to check-in on your running technique

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.'s great, just like a running buddy checker, I love it :-)

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Get your Centre ahead of your Feet

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.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Invest in Your Long-term Health

Participation in one of the Chi Running workshops is an investment in your health and is (approx.) equivalent in cost for two physiotherapy, sports massage or acupuncture sessions.  However an important additional benefit to your investment in the workshop is that you learn to run in a way that prevents injury and is energy efficient, so it's an even greater investment in your long term health!

Monday, 26 August 2013

Golden Arches: Human Feet More Flexible Than We Thought,

Article by Deborah Franklin,
The healthy human foot's outer arch may be more flexible than previously thought.

The healthy human foot's outer arch may be more flexible than previously thought....
.....There was nothing wrong with any of these feet, the scientist emphasizes. It's our definition of normal that needs to change.
"A sports shoe with a lot of arch support might not be such a great idea," he says. A bit of cushioning is fine. "But I'd look for a shoe that lets your toes wiggle and doesn't constrain foot motion. You want your foot to be able to move and flatten because that's what it's designed to do."
Click here for the full article

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Marlay parkrun - weekly free 5km Timed Run

What a great idea the parkrun is and the perfect way to get people up and out of their beds early on a bright sunny morning to meet others in one of Dublin's finest parks.....I went along for a peek this morning and was pleasantly surprised at the turn out on an August bank holiday weekend!  Very well organized, great atmosphere and so good to see people taking an interest in running to keep fit.

The run starts at 9.30am and afterwards many enjoy a well earned coffee in the Marlay CafĂ© or go to the market beside Marlay House where there are lots of goodies for sale from coffees to freshly baked breads/cakes, fresh fish, butchers, heaps of fresh fruit, every kind of olive
and so much more!   Well worth a visit if you're in the area, I'll definitely be back.
Click here to bring you to Parkrun/marlay website where you can register online.