I have a confession. Two, actually, but I will explain the second later.
I have missed running. Apathy and injury have taken their toll and it has been 6 months since I ran in my last Great Run event.
I would like to say that the break has served me well, but I have struggled mentally and physically. I have lost confidence, fitness and friends and I have gained weight. A lot of weight.
Not running has not helped and I have decided that I am happier when I am running.
However, my knees, like the rest of my body, are suffering from wear and tear and if I am going to run again, I have to learn to run with less impact on my joints.
So, when Lululemon Glasgow announced a free Chi Running and yoga session, I signed up (they used my favourite word, free).
The session was delivered by Nick Constantine of SoulinMotion and yoga teacher Mark Russell and we all met outside the cosy Lululemon Glasgow store, where Nick explained the core principles of Chi Running.
He explained how Chi Running was developed in 1999 by ulta-runner and T’ai Chi practitioner, Danny Dreyer, and how it has helped thousands of runners transform their technique using the core principles of focus, posture, alignment and relaxation.
This message was reinforced inside Lululemon, where we were treated to a video of the legendary Kenyan running coach, Brother Colm O’Connell instructing his runners. We watched as they gently jogged and even walked around the track. This was no warm up. This is how they train.
This is how World Champion, David Rudisha, trains.
And this, is how we train. The Kenyans better watch out.
Nick then went on to explain the 80:20 rule. He suggested that 80% of our training should be gentle and form focused. Something, I can totally buy into. Too often we relentlessly push ourselves, with the only outcome being injury. How much smarter and possibly more enjoyable would it be to go out for more slow and gentle runs?
It was then time for Nick to introduce us to some of the techniques he uses to help runners.
We started by aligning our standing position. I am guilty of dropping my shoulders and Nick helped me to straighten and strengthen my posture. A few adjustments and I was standing taller and leaning a little more forward than my normal stance. Not enough to fall over, but enough to make me feel a little more solid.
Another principle of Chi Running is to engage our core strength, to give us power. Rather than leading foot first, Nick suggested that we propel ourselves forward, pelvis first. We practised this for a few minutes, walking back and forth, and by the end, it felt both comfortable and even natural.
Next up, Nick had us stomping in time to his metronome. I say stomping, but another key concept of Chi Running is to run lightly, regardless of the size and weight of the runner. Again, music to ears. Or rather, metronome beats to my ears.
The purpose of this was to increase our cadence and get us used to midsole landing, which would help us to decrease the amount of time each foot had on the ground and seemingly help us conserve energy.
It was then time to put Nick’s advice to the test.
As I learned forward, I felt the urge to move and with a quick pelvic thrust, I was off. I was able to maintain a good pace with quick, light steps and some high heel kicks.
We had only spent an hour with Nick and it would be unfair to expect a complete transformation of my running style, but I did see and feel a difference.
In May and September, Nick returns to Glasgow for his Chi Running workshop and there are still spaces for the September event.
You can find out more HERE.
An added bonus of the workshops is that you get to spend a few hours with Mark Russell, an Ironman and yoga teacher who specialises in yoga for sports
At the Lululemon Chi Running event, we were treated to a short introduction to his yoga teachings, in the most salubrious of setting of Club 29. Other than the lush surroundings, one thing stuck out for me.
Mark reminded us that when we run, we are predominantly on one foot and he encouraged us to train accordingly. We practised a few Yoga poses, including Vrikshasana (or tree pose), and made them more challenging by closing our eyes. This unbalanced me and I will make practising this pose a daily habit, especially as I have weak glutes.
In fact, I was so impressed with Mark’s approach that I intend on attending more of his weekly classes at Lululemon, who have to be applauded for putting on their weekly free yoga, running and training sessions.
Which brings me to my second confession.
I have discovered that I love Lululemon and Lululemon clothing. Up until yesterday, I had assumed that it was an overpriced brand that didn’t cater for the oversized man.
Post event, we retired to the store for drinks and nibbles and I browsed the men’s clothing range. I fully expected to have my preconceptions confirmed. Instead, my gaze fell upon the top below.
It was in my size, it felt so soft and it had anti-stink materials that inhibits sweat bacteria from growing. The previously hidden fashionista and the geek in me were mesmerised.
I had to have it and tomorrow, I’ll be testing out its non stink properties at Bikram Yoga Southside and I might need to add to my Lululemon collection (do you think they might like to have a fat male ambassador?).
Huge thanks to SoulinMotion, Mark Russell and Lululemon for a wonderful introduction to Chi Running.