Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Just Breathe

"It is impossible for us to break the law ourselves.  We can only break ourselves against the law."  This quote by Cecil B. DeMille is used in Chi Running to demonstrate our tendencies to flow with or fight against the laws of nature.  Obviously rolling (or running) with the laws of nature is a more comfortable, effortless and fun way to go.  I like the idea of getting swept away, utilizing the pull of gravity, and floating along in an invigorating run.  I've been trying to remember this concept in other areas of my life as well.  Whatever I resist or try to control usually doesn't work out as well, leaving me feeling frustrated and disappointed.  Lately I've been focusing on surrender, releasing my grip on my own life and watching what unfolds. 

I especially connected with the idea of tapping into my chi through correct breathing.  By utilizing belly breathing instead of shallow breathing, I can stimulate my body's parasympathetic system.  As a result, my body releases a beneficial cocktail of hormones (namely serotonin and beta-endorphin), lowers heart rate and blood pressure, improves circulation, and produces an overall calming effect and feeling of well-being.  Yes, please!  The book recommends running with my mouth closed as a way to determine my correct running pace.  If I'm unable to hold a conversation and breathe normally and/or breathe through my nose, then I should slow down my pace until I build up my aerobic capacity.  It sounds like an interesting homework assignment!  Building my awareness through experimentation is exactly what my blog is all about.  The experiment itself, not the result, is where my joy is found.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Blister Blunders

My second Chi Running session with Stacy was punctuated with piercing pains in my left foot and a bloody sock decorated with foot skin.  Appetizing, I know.  This annoying blister has been making appearances in my left arch ever since I got my new orthodics.  My chiropractor claims that it's normal in the break-in process, but it's a major obstacle in my running.  As I continue to practice surrender and acceptance, I breathed in, remembered that even a short run counts and enjoyed the pink sunset with a good friend.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Muscle Recovery

Working the legs requires resting the legs.  I am in state of muscle recovery.  My Chi Running book promotes balance and listening to your body.  After a strong lap around Greenlake yesterday afternoon, my body told me to get into bed at 7:00pm.  I could barely keep my eyes open and my legs went on strike.  Perhaps I overdid it, but Chi Running with a fit partner motivated and inspired me.  I know this experiment is going to propel me towards running races again.  Stacy and I have the St. Patty's Day Dash in our sights for mid-March.

During the run, we focused on the idea of a needle in cotton.  This image helps me remember that my spine and my core muscles are like a gathered needle of energy from which all of my movements should originate.  My arms, shoulders, hands legs, hips, feet are the loose cotton that move easily and that are guided by the strong metal core.  We would occasionally shake out our arms and shoulders to release tension and let the core direct the show.

I also tried to envision the center point below my belly button and in front of my spine.  However, my heart felt like a more natural place to focus my attention.  Perhaps the yoga training and heart chakra work makes the heart my familiar meditative zone.  I could visualize being pulled forward through my chest and out of my heart.  It definitely helped to keep my head up and vision focused on a point in the distance.  I will keep experimenting with center points within my body.  Session number one of Chi Running is considered a success!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

mission Greenlake

I am on the look-out for Chi runners.  They will be leaning slightly forward with a look of zen enjoyment on their faces.  These mystical beings will be using a mid-foot strike and gliding effortlessly around Greenlake.  I've been reading about this exhilarating technique, but would like to see it in practice.  These Chi runners will have a straight spine and be moving from their center, a place below the belly button and in front of the spine.  In my fantasties, these creatures will have a center that glows and helps them float right out of their sneakers.  I'll keep you posted on my Greenlake discoveries this afternoon.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Month Ten: ChiRunning

This month I will be exploring a new way to run called the ChiRunning approach.  My good friend, Stacy, mentioned ChiRunning to me a few months ago and bought me the book for Christmas.  It's amazing how the things you need have a way of finding you.

ChiRunning is designed to build a healthy body, instead of breaking it down from misuse or overuse.  This technique claims to reduce or eliminate injury and knee pain.  My history of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis and recent knee problems had me thinking that I could no longer run.  When I had my knee drained after months of pain and swelling in 2008, I thought running was a thing of my past.  Recently I decided to gently try running again and was amazed to feel the freedom and exhilaration I had missed for years.  I am perpetually on "knee watch" because my doctor said that further swelling could cause irreversible damage in my joint.  Claims of injury-free, meditative running definitely caught my attention.

As I delve into my new book and new experiment, the stars seem to be lining up.  My holistic chiropractor moved to Hawaii, selling her practice to a new doctor that specializes in Sports Medicine.  My previous doctor that discouraged running was replaced by an active and innovative chiropractor with zero effort on my part.  He seems to truly understand the biomechanics of sports-related movement.  Check out Functional Health Chiropractic and Massage in Madison Valley.  Medical and social support seem to make any endeavor more successful, so I'm considering Dr. Sasaki part of my ChiRunning support team.