On Sunday I went to a 4-hour Chi Running Clinic. I had read the book (a few times at least) and listened to the MP3 download many times but I still felt like I wanted help with the technique. Karen Smith of Go with the Flow teaches clinics in Austin. I've been trying to get it on my calendar for at least six months. One month it was cancelled. Another we were planning to go to the Renaissance faire (which we did not end up doing). Another month we went to visit my in-laws. Another month my sister and brother were riding the MS150 but my sister decided to only do 1/2 the distance which means I could have gone to the clinic but it was too late to register by that time. So this month I was finally able to go and I registered weeks ago to make sure it was on my calendar.
I had been wondering how we would do a 4 hour class outside but the instructor sent a note that she had moved to a location that would allow us to do it partially inside. When I arrived, it turned out that we would have the entire class inside. Given that it was 100+ degrees out, that was a good thing. The class had 6 students (3 women and 3 men) ranging from a guy who said that he runs 10Ks or 10 mile races at about a 7:10/mile pace and he wants to learn how to run right so he can get "fast" to a woman who has qualified for Boston but doesn't know if she will get in to me. I described myself for the class as having run for the past 1.5 years, done a HM, registered for 2 more, and I want to run easier and faster. I explained that it seems very hard and seems like it should be easier. The instructor assured me that it will become easier and faster and more fun.
The workshop was very active. We had very little lecture and mostly actually doing the posture, then jogging across the room with feedback. We had a sort of set of steps to get in the right posture, then did some exercises, then learned and did loosener exercises, then more exercises, then she videotaped each of us from each side and then we watched the videos back and talked about them. That evening she sent us a long e-mail with reminders of everything we discussed and attachments showing good form and some recommended exercises.
Interestingly the instructor is absolutely anti-Galloway. Anti-Run Walk Run. She says that it doesn't make any sense to keep changing your posture over and over. That you want to set your posture and maintain it. She also contents that anyone in any shape can run at 1 degree of lean for a long time. One degree of lean is basically the amount of lean that makes you have to step because otherwise you would fall and no more. So... a slow jog.
Each evening this week I have done some of the exercises she sent while watching TV. The hardest for me is managing to breathe into my belly while keeping my transverse abs tensed. Then I have used what I learned in class on my Tuesday and Thursday runs. I ran without music so I could just concentrate on my form and what I learned in the class. Tuesday I ran much farther than I usually do without walking but I did take a few walk breaks in my 35-40 minutes of running. This morning, I was able to run over 30 minutes (stopping at 1 traffic light), then took a 2 minute walk break, and then ran the rest of the way home. It's a big difference although I don't know that it's that much faster yet.
I can tell while I'm running that I still have work to do on my form and I can keep practicing. Someone in class asked her how long it takes to learn and she said that she still does a posture check and setup and checks her form on every run (and she's run over 30 marathons and 2 Ironman Triathlons). But she said that we should see a difference in a month if we work at it. I will be really interested to see how I do on my 9 mile long run this weekend.