ChiRunning Outside of Running
Coach J-R here.
Since begining July 2012, I ceased coaching ChiRunning full time to become a recruit Fire Fighter in the Northern Territory, Australia. This is an achievement of a life long goal that was hidden away somewhere, however the universe, it its mysterious way, lined up all the planets for this to happen at the age of 48, (and now since September, 49).
I am just about finished 4 months of basic training, which has been tough in many levels, physically, dealing with the intense and humid tropical heat in Darwin, learning a lot of theory with intense weekly theory and physical exams, as well as managing younger peers, mostly half my age! Also being away from my wife and cat, having to live 4500 kms away, in single accomodation (imagine army barracks) for basic training has been all very challenging, (but fun of course). However, now, 4 weeks before graduation day and my first posting onto one of the Darwin Fire stations and what will be my first real baptism of fire on the fire ground, I would just like to keep you informed of how ChiRunning has so very much helped me during my training.
Those who know me are surely aware of my strong belief and practique in ChiRunning since 2006, whether teaching or running myself, whichever the distance or discipline.
However during basic training it has been so evident to me, and so damned helpful, that any of the ChiRunning skills, any of the ChiRunning technqiues that make up the big picture of ChiRunning have made the physical side of basic training a much lesser burden, especially at the ripe young age of 49!
A particular example that I will share with you, is the benefits of the lean and arm swing when running up stairs (up hill).
One of our regular benchmark tests is wearing full Fire fighter turn out gear, boots and helmet, breathing apparatus (air tanks and masks) (all together nearly an extra 20 kgs), we get to run up 37 flights of stairs (about 12 stairs/steps per flight), and then run down, then run up again, and again… The great benefit of just running up with a slight lean to the side from the ankles, using that opposite arm to swing and take you up the stairs, landing midfoot, and just cruising up the stairs to the top, I found that I could just keep going on and on! Meanwhile, my younger colleagues who are just as fit (certainly younger, thus should be fitter), really stomp and grind their way up the stairs and suffer with cramp, sore legs in the afternoon/next day. However thanks to ChiRunning, I do not and could do it all over again. It is all about using less effort, thus less air from my air tank, and thus being able to stay autonome for longer to save lifes, which is ultimatly, one of the goals of the training. I could go on as well about the sand dune hill reps, the MSFT, intervals and charged hose drags, stretcher carries etc, in which I have always used many of the far reaching principles & techniques of ChiRunning, be it working with the flow of my chi, cadence, or just staying aligned in sprint intervals, or dragging a charged fire hose (weighing over 100kgs) over distance, or any of the many many other challenges and drills that we are faced with daily.
I have of course tried to pass on some basic tips on ChiRunning to my fellow recruits, however despite the proof in front of their eyes, they seem to prefer going the hard yard to achieve less and enjoy the pain and injury more! Such is life 😉
As I near the end of basic training, I am preparing to take up back coaching ChiRunning, although now part time, here in Darwin, and eventually elsewhere in Australia as the demand arises as before.
So wether you are “old” or “new” to ChiRunning, wether as an instructor or as a ChiRunner, I do encourage you to explore the many possibilities that ChiRunning has to offer, not just limiting it to running. If you play soccer, football, do bootcamps, whatever your discipline, if you are maybe joiningthe army or other, ChiRunning can help you in so many ways that it allows you to to achieve your best, (faster if thats your thing), allows you to enjoy a faster recovery, not to mention the avoidance of injuries and physical strains/drains on the body, and go again, again and again!
I will see some of you at the CRIT in Singapore, where one of my proteges that I have trained as a potential CR instructor over the last year will be attending, and also of course, in November in Asheville.
Take care everyone, with my best wishes