Gradual Progress in Running Training and in Recovery from Injury

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Running at different speeds can be a lot of fun – and it can be a temptation along a path leading to running injuries. A recent experience in my running training demonstrated this phenomenon and  has reminded me of the importance one of the core principles in the ChiRunning model, that of Gradual Progress, that I'd like to share today.

I have to confess that I did not pay attention to the principle of Gradual Progress in two distinct but directly related areas, one in my “speed” running training, specifically in my track workouts, and secondly in my recovery from the running injury resulting from this first omission.  I had been doing interval repeats with some other runners and got overly focused on how fast I was able to run them. One day I set a new running speed PR and the next day I was feeling some tightness and discomfort around the area of my left Tensor Fascia Lata muscle.

My second “error” was ignoring the principle of Gradual Progress in the recovery from what initially was a minor running injury. Having registered for and having travelled to the Austin half Marathon, I unwisely decided to go ahead and run it even though I was still feeling  discomfort in the TFL area. I basically talked myself into a 13.1 mile race instead of backing off and letting my body have some time off to recover from my initial mistake in judgement. Two wrongs sure do not make a right in terms of ignoring the Gradual Progress principle.

Although my knowledge of ChiRunning (good form, relaxed muscles, pelvic rotation, etc.) got me through running the Half Marathon without intense pain and with a respectable time, even the ChiRunning technique could not protect me from myself.  Perhaps my runner's ego and some “magical thinking”  had led me to proceed but it didn't work and, sure enough, after running the race I was much worse off than before it. And for several weeks following the run, I paid the price – my running had to be minimal or none at all and my recovery from what could have been a minor and brief injury turned into an ongoing problem which only recently has seemed to clear up. 

So, what did I learn that might be useful to others? Patience, self-monitoring, taking a long term perspective – and above all, paying attention to the principle of Gradual Progress in your running and, if you do  end  up with a strain or some other running related injury, paying attention to the principle of Gradual Progress in your recovery. Attention to issues of Pre-hab in your running will likely prevent the need to have Re-hab later (see discussion of Pre-hab vs Re-hab by David Stretanski at However,  if Re-hab is ever necessary,  the guiding principle of Gradual Progress will make Re-hab shorter and more successful. That's my learning from this recent running experience. I hope it will be of value to others too!

Posted in Technique

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