Running Form and Tension - Chi Running

Running Form and Tension

Posted by Michelle Muldoon on Fri May 7th, 2010, 6 comments

I haven’t blogged for a while, very sadly my Mum passed away a month ago from breast cancer, she was too young to go and still had a lot of living left to do.  My family and I are devastated but we have to get used to learning to live without her.  I was in two minds whether to blog about it but it would be difficult to blog and not mention something so life changing.  Needless to say the stress of dealing with a terminal illness takes its toll and that stress crept into my body and my running without me noticing.

During the time leading up to my Mum’s death I continued running, needed running, to keep me sane. However, somewhere along the line that tension manifested itself as soreness in my ankle/foot.  No warning, just sudden discomfort even when walking.  Until recently I thought I had become invincible, in running terms at least, bullet proof if you like.  What I didn’t take into account was what was happening in my life had begun to affect my running.  I had some physiotherapy and took two weeks off which was no harm in the circumstances and slowly began to build up again. When I started back I could still feel it and no matter what I did form wise, I just couldn’t shake it.

Last weekend, Danny Dreyer came to London to teach a couple of Chi Running technique workshops here.  They were two amazing days and many people were inspired to take their running to the next level.  I was fortunate to be able to run with him while he was here.  When we headed out, I could feel my troublesome foot straight away. Half way around the park, we took a detour into the empty children’s playground and ran across the sandpit.  This is an exercise recommended in the Chi Running book and one, which I am the first to admit, never do! The idea is to leave clean undisturbed footprints in the sand.  If you are pushing off or holding tension in your ankles, you will see a crater at the front of your footprint.  Now I could have sworn my lower legs were as relaxed as I could make them but the sand told me a different story!  So over and back I went until I could leave cleaner footprints in the sand.  I felt much lighter on my feet and the second half of the run was a different story.  Funnily enough, by the end of the run my foot was no longer bothering me.

I have run twice since with no twinges and each time I have taken my little detour into the sandpit.  The moral of the story is that there is always more work to do and that even when we think we are relaxed, we can learn to let go even more.

My goal for the next few weeks is just to work on more relaxation in my runs.  No distance or pace goals, no races, just to use running as a vehicle to help me recover from the stress of the last few weeks and months.

Happy running.



  • relaxation,
  • chirunning workshops,
  • sandpit exercise,
  • tension

6 CommentsLeave a comment below

Phyllis Howard May 9th, 2010 03:34pm

Michelle, you’re an encouragement!  I must say that I’ve never blogged about my struggles thru some painful stuff… but maybe that’s another way to help cope and heal.  My sister has been struggling for 5 years with colon cancer and this year has been the most difficult of all.  I’ve made it thru many melt-downs and most of the time the run is what holds me together.  The pain of dealing with it never goes away as I see her struggle thru her physical pain and how she’s lost so much weight and strength.  I’m glad to have fund the chi-running too… It keeps me together!

Laura Houston May 10th, 2010 07:26am

Very nice post. So so sorry about your mum - I know she will be missed. I thought about this post this weekend and listened to where I might be holding some tension. The mind is a powerful thing - really amazing when you can release that tension! Thanks for the reminders.

Madeleine Crow May 12th, 2010 02:21am

Very sorry to hear about your Mum also. When my Dad was ill he used to love hearing my running stories when I visited him in hospital, making a detour en route to visit him. I hope the running helps you to relax for a while.

I’m sorry about your loss. I do know how it feels, and you’ve put it so well. As I heard Danny say once, when I run, my spirit comes out. That’s why I keep doing it. Now, I’m going to look for some sand. Thanks for sharing. These blogs are so helpful to all of us runners, and sharing a bit more of yourself only makes them better.

Keith McConnell Jun 9th, 2010 07:55pm

Hi Michelle; sorry about your deep loss. So hard to lose a parent - and so darn permanent. Glad you could draw upon running and then share your experience with others. All the best,  keith

Michelle I would like to run across sandpits with you, my ankle keeps playing up also. I focus on relaxing my ankles on every run, it’s my primary focus always these days.  Sorry about your mum, it’s hard x

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