Monday, March 12, 2012

Chi Running, Part 5: Forget the time, focus on form

It was another good running week. I managed 56kms in total, including a long slow run of 29k on Saturday morning and a mellow 8.5k recovery run along two of my favourite beaches on Sunday. (The photo above is of Risser's Beach which I had entirely to myself for a change!)

I confess I dreaded the Saturday run. It was the first of a series of long runs I plan to run in preparation for the Wascally Wabbit 50k Ultra in May so I wanted it to feel okay.  To that end, I was especially careful about what I ate and drank last week, tried to get extra sleep, and double-checked my gear the night before. Which is why it came as such a nasty shock to discover the battery in my Garmin was dead as I was heading out the door Saturday morning!  To make matters worse, the battery in my watch was dead as well!!

As some of you know, I'm just a teensy bit "type A", so the idea of running a long slow run without tracking pace, distance and elevation and being reminded to take walk breaks at regular intervals was completely unacceptable to my inner control freak. In fact, she was so unsettled by the idea that I very nearly postponed the run to give myself time to recharge my Garmin.

Fortunately, it was a beautiful, clear sunny morning and I had plans for the afternoon, so I was able to resign myself to running Garmin-free and headed out the door - pausing just long enough to download MapMyRun to my smartphone so I could measure my total distance at least.

I have to admit it felt okay doing a long slow run without my Garmin.  Not having it forced me to try to sense how fast I was running and when it was time for a break. And, in order to that, I needed to focus on my form. 

And goodness knows, I had lots to work on! My chi running form is still far from perfect. These days, I pay particular attention to holding my arms in the correct position and trying to let them swing freely in their shoulder sockets so that, in turn, my body can rotate more naturally, my hips can loosen and my stride can open up. When I move properly, it feels amazing - but, unfortunately, I still can't manage it for extended periods of time.

As it turned out, even without my Garmin to keep me on track, I ran 29kms on Saturday in roughly the time I expected to - though I only took about half the number of walk breaks I would have if I'd been wearing it - and I felt pretty good throughout. Focusing on my form helped me keep my arms, shoulders, and hips more relaxed so that I was less sore afterwards too.

Or maybe it was the ice cold bath that made the difference.

No. I'm not kidding. When I got home, I made myself a steaming cup of caffe latte and crawled into a tub of ice cold well water to soak my legs. 

Notice the goose bumps?  I won't lie. It's not comfortable getting into a freezing cold bath when you're already cold and exhausted but I learned a long time ago that it helps with recovery so I do it - though I still whimper pathetically as I lower myself in.

Happily, when the water's cold enough, my legs and feet numb up quickly so the discomfort doesn't last long. And it's definitely worth it!  By the time I hit the beach for a run on Sunday, only my quads were still sore. And, hard as she tried, my massage therapist wasn't able to wring a single tear from me Monday evening.  :-)

I guess the big lesson from this past weekend for me (and my inner control freak) is that I can run a long slow run without my Garmin so long as I forget about the time and pay close attention to my form and how my body's feeeling. And that it's probably something I should practice doing more often so that I'm not caught off guard when/if I'm ever forced to run a race without it.

One last thing - A massive thank you to all who've expressed appreciation for the photographs I post here from time to time. I enjoy taking pics when I'm running so I'm glad others enjoy them too. Who knows? Maybe I'll break down and buy myself a proper camera one of these days. If you're interested, you can see a few more photos from recent runs here.

Until next time...


  1. How did I miss this?

    Wonderful picture of the beach, Janice! And it's always nice to have the place to yourself!

    You've got some amazing mileage numbers there - you'll be so ready for that 50K :)

    1. Thanks, Janet. Hope you're right about being ready for the 50k. The 32km run I have planned for this weekend will tell the tale, I guess.

      Will be in touch soon re your post last Monday. (Of course, you're a writer!! And I think you're an author too!) So far this week, I've just been too busy to sit down and write the response I want to write. XX

  2. Ice baths have been my go-to lately. And you take beautiful pictures! iPhone?

  3. Thanks! Glad I'm not the only one silly enough to put myself through ice baths. Nope, it's a blackberry bold.