Tuesday, June 19, 2012

How Proper Form Helped Me Complete a 22 Mile Training Run

Sunday AM:  as I left my house at 4:30am and the sun was barely peeking over the horizon, I knew I had a journey ahead of me.  A journey that had brought me to my emotional knees in the past.  I was going to run 20 miles in one training session.  No cheering crowds, no aid stations, no medal at the end.  Just me and the road.  I love running, I especially love running by myself - but running 20 miles solo, that's harsh.  The week before, I had run 18 and then 4 later on.  Since the LA Full in March, I had not run over 20 miles in one session.

Little secret.  I didn't carb load, on purpose.  I wanted to push my body to it's limits and teach it and my brain to keep pushing.  I had mental barriers to break and I could only do it by pushing myself when my body wanted to quit. 

I ran a 5K race the day before.  The day before that, I ran a very hard trail run of 4 miles.  I was not running on fresh legs or rested body.

I NEEDED to run this 20 miles.  I reached a place in my training that I NEEDED to reach that milestone again for my own good.  5 weeks away from ET, I didn't want only one 20 mile run, I wanted two, 20 miles runs.  I wanted to start ET knowing I was physically and mentally more prepared than LA Full.  I NEEDED to feel that way, for me.

By Mile 5, my legs were burning, and not from the heat.  From fatigue.  Although I was running without carb loading and not on fresh legs, I was not dumb.  I knew it would be blazing hot by mid-run.  So, I planned to run out and back 15 miles (stopping at gas stations, etc to fill up my water bottle, pees breaks, etc).  Come back home, grab more fueling and head back out for another 7.

When I reached the 5, I knew if I turned around I could end up with 10 miles logged.  Not bad, considering I already had logged in 24 miles for the week.  That was not good enough, for me.  I NEEDED that 20 miles, on that day.

My pace was typically in the 9:30-10:00 range.  I kept it slower, I knew I needed to.
  • At Mile 6, I consumed my first fueling:  Mini Clif Bar - Chocolate Chip and a few Hammer Electrolyte Capsules
  • Mile 8 - Clif Bar Shot Bloks
  • Another Mini Clif Bar at Mile 13
  • Back at home (Mile 15) I had more fueling, more capsules and this time I drank an organic 5-hour type shot drink.
  • Mile 18.5 another Mini Clif Bar
When I hit the 15.5 miles I REALLY wanted to quit.  I was more tired at this 15.5 than after I finished the LA Full. 

By 16, I wanted to cry, I really did.  My legs were beyond jello - my back was hurting - and that was my wake up call!  My back shouldn't be hurting if my form is correct!  I am tired, because my form is off.

I regrouped my brain, and put all my energy into body sensing (checking how my feet landed, how I felt, etc) - within a mile, I was not as tired, I was more relaxed and I just kept running.  As I made the final turn at 19.5...and then 20...and decided to keep going....why?

My legs didn't hurt, my feet weren't hurting and my back felt better  

At 22 miles, I decided to call it a day.

Walking back to my house for another 1 mile as my cool down, I reflected on that run and staring at my Garmin of 22 miles.  Despite the many needed water refill stops and more, I did it.  I had reached my goal of 20 miles for that day.  No longer was I thinking "LA Full was a fluke, I can't run these 20+ miles distances"

I remember at LA Full, I was walking & hurting by mile 16.5 and walked more and more often as the miles came on.  I only walked twice, for less than a mile on this training run.  I believe I will be stronger on ET.  I won't promise a faster finish time (much harder course at ET) but I will finish stronger.

So - how did I know how to correct my form?  Chi Running.  I have been a student of ChiRunning.com for over 15 months.  For 15 months, I have been injury free.  No down time from running related injuries - and on this run - it proved to me I could run with less fatigue and stress.  When I wanted to shut down at 15, I found renewed energy.

I don't make a penny from my endorsement of ChiRunning.com - but YOU will gain more than you can imagine.  Take 4-6 weeks of your training to learn how to run properly.  You are going to run anyways, you might as well learn how to do it the way your body intended.  

Looking back on my LA Full journal notes, I realized at the last 6 miles of that race, despite my walking until Mile 25.5, I was still using ChiRunning.

My FAB-O friends, it's worth your time and resources to learn about running.  I am living proof it can be done.  I am 50 years old and no running related injuries.  Best part, the next day or day after - I do not have a tremendous amount of stiffness nor soreness.  This is part of good nutrition, recovery, foam rolling, but more importantly - running form.

Bringing down the miles a bit this week.  My long run will be about 6 miles.  After two weeks of 40+ miles, this is my recovery week.  The week after, I am back up to 20+ miles for my long run. 

I know I can do this, because of what ChiRunning.com has taught me

MY RECOMMENDATION:  Book AND DVD - they compliment each other, not a repeat of information.  You will refer to the book, again and again throughout your training.  After that, register for a ChiRunning workshop in your area.  This is where it all came together for me and you have the hands-on experience of a Certified ChiRunning Instructor.

Have you tried ChiRunning?  If so, please share with me your experiences...

So glad I met "Chi" over a year ago, I hate to think of what my running career would of been like, without it.

(c) C. Ragsdale 2011-12
Run F.A.B.,

Charlene L. Ragsdale - Las Vegas, NV
Running Coach, Certified Sports Nutritionist & Public Speaker
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  1. I just borrowed Chi Running from the library, but I'm glad I followed the link from the Gary Allen interview to your blog. I did the Mt. Desert Island Marathon years ago as a walker, but have recently started running. I was concerned about injuries and have been happy with the information I've been reading in the Chi Running book. Will now look for the DVD as I would like to see the techniques in action. I'm really enjoying your blog too.

    1. Hi Mary, you won't regret learning and applying ChiRunning. It takes 4-6 weeks to learn how and it's a constant checking yourself. I have had bad form runs and good form runs. Big difference. Thanks for the compliment on my blog. Keep me posted on your ChiRunning progress.


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