Hills and Trails

Engaging your core and truly relaxing the rest of your body is essential to enjoying trail running. Your strong core keeps you centered and balanced, with your midfoot strike soft, quick and sure. Your relaxed body feels like liquid, flowing along the path of least resistance. The air, the sky, the trees, the colors and sounds are an integral part of running, a part of you and your movement.

Like my daughter and my dog, I love to play and I love to run through the woods and over hills and on winding, twisting paths because that is play to me (and to them). In terms of running, trail running is my truest love. When I’m out in nature, my senses come alive and I feel my body respond to every slope and turn, every new aspect, every new challenge. My mind drops away completely, no problems, no issues, just me and nature and the present moment.

If you love trail running, or want to, but are concerned about staying safe and injury-free, I’d love to teach you what I’ve learned from running thousands of miles of trails in the Rockies of Colorado, the Coastal Range of California and the Appalachian mountains of North Carolina. Eighty-five percent of the events I’ve raced have been trail races, usually of 30-50 miles, with a couple of hundred milers thrown in.

ChiRunning was discovered while training for these events, as I melded my running with my T’ai Chi Master’s lessons to create “intelligent movement.”

Everything you learn in ChiRunning (good posture, lean, a midfoot strike, pelvic rotation…and every other Form Focus) not only becomes more necessary, but requires more refinement on the trails. If you have studied your beginner running techniques, you’re ready to  get started running on hills and teaching your body to respond to the nuance of trails. On the trails you are forced to change the Form Focuses, sometimes moment to moment. Soon, all of those focuses will become the natural way you move, your body responding to every nuance underfoot, feeling the gentle rise, then steep rise, the abrupt downhill where you lean back to control your speed, and the gentle downhill (my favorite part) where you learn to lean forward and enjoy the free ride.

Hills and Trails, our newest training DVD, offers you the fundamentals of running hills – up and down, easy and steep – easily, which is an essential aspect of trail running. It then takes you to the trails to learn what I’ve been practicing over the years and miles.

Yes, trails do present some challenges; rocks and roots, mud and gravel, getting lost, and my real nemesis – poison oak or ivy. The challenges have kept me alert and my instincts fine-tuned. Trail running is my play, my inner work and one of my greatest joys. I return from a road run feeling great. I come back from a trail run a different and happier person. Get started running those Hills and Trails today.

Posted in Technique

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