Completing the Eugene Marathon and Half Marathon with Chi Walk-Run

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Concurrent with the official launching of Chi Walk-Run last Fall (see earlier blog: ), I expanded my use of this unique approach by implementing it in my annual running and walking training programs for the Eugene Marathon. In prior years, I had had some  interest and success with a few participants when I offered a combined ChiWalking and ChiRunning emphasis along with the usual individual ChiWalking and ChiRunning programs but this year was the first time I used the “Chi Walk-Run” term and made it a more publicized option in my marketing materials. The response was enthusiastic as more than half of my 25 trainees chose the Chi Walk-Run track.

During the three and a half months of running and walking training in which we met every Sunday morning, I provided the Chi Walk-Run trainees with input on ChiWalking and ChiRunning and gradually introduced them to the practice of doing both walking and running in their workouts. Depending on their prior experience and preferences regarding how much walking or running they wanted to do in the Half or Full Marathon, I designed their training schedule accordingly.

In contrast to highly structured, pain-free Walk-Run programs which often prescribe strict time periods, sequences and ratios for walking and for running, I emphasized individual decision-making by the participants as to which they would do and when they would do it. Some began with a desired goal of doing their Marathon event 75% walking / 25% running while others  were aiming for  95% running with just 5% walking. In fact, these original goals re. walking vs running were often  revised as the training period went along.  Thus, at a given point in the running and walking training program, some people might be doing 10% ChiRunning while others might be doing 80%.  This kind of diversity added to the typical diversity of walking and running speeds so that using my bicycle to track the participants and give them feedback was essential. I always got a good workout as they did their weekly “long” walk, run or walk-run.

In order to assist the trainees as to when to Chi Walk and when to Chi Run, I highlghted a number of variables to conisder. For example, I taught and reinforced (1) awareness of self, i.e., self-monitoring for energy and physical status (2) awareness of surroundings, e.g. level or hilly terrain, and (3) timing, e.g., at what stage in the workout or event were they.

The other major skill area unique to the Chi Walk-Run training concerned the actual transition from ChiWalking to ChiRunning and back (see earlier blog: ). Given that they might be shifting back and forth 10 to 20 times in a half marathon alone, it was important that they do so as smoothly and efficiently as possible; to do otherwise was sure to be an energy drain. For example, a quick, sudden shift takes effort and effort is what we are trying to minimize in the overall Chi Walk-Run approach. Since gradual, thoughtful transitions are key, I spent considerable time teaching and observing transitions. One of my favorite exercises was to have them take at least 40 steps during the transition from walking to running so that an observer would have difficulty identifying when they actually began running. Give it a try as transitioning that gradually takes patience and practice.

I’m happy to report that on the big day of the Eugene Marathon, my group of Chi Walk-Runners were ready and they performed accordingly.  All of them completed their goal and did so in terrific fashion.  Using my bicycle to get around, I observed them a number of times during the morning and was pleased to see them ChiWalking, ChiRunning and doing effective and smooth transitions between the two. For many, it was a first to complete the distance (Half or Full Marathon), for many of the walkers, it was a first to include any running in their undertaking and for the runners, it was the first time they had consciously included any walking in their long distance events. Smiling faces and quick recoveries were the order of the day for all of the Chi Walk-Runners. It was a real accomplishment and the beginning of many good, pain-free workouts and long-distance events awaiting them down the road. 

P.S. Check out the terrific Chi Walk-run DVD and 5K training program now available through the ChiLiving store.


Posted in Beginners

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