July 2016 Instructor of the Month: Angela James

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“Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are”   Ancient Chinese Proverb

A native of England, with a background in Nursing and Midwifery from St Mary’s Hospital, London, Angela immigrated to Canada in 1983. She owned and operated a furniture business, importing Antiques from the UK which she ran successfully for over 20 years. Her custom-built commissioned pieces have become collectible in the city of Vancouver.

Sports have always played a big part in Angela’s life, including tennis squash, cycling, swimming and or course long distance running and walking. In 1996 Angela expanded her fitness program to include marathon running. She has since completed twenty marathons including Boston in 2004. Angela is a traveler and loves nothing better than meeting people in all walks of live from around the globe.In 2003 she found a way to combine her love of traveling and running and her care-giving nature by joining Team In Training, a fund-raising program that raises research money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society by running marathons around the world.

Read more about Angela below and visit her website to see her workshop schedule.

Tell us a little about you. Where you live, what your background is:

Born and raised in the New Forest in the south of England. Studied Nursing and Midwifery at St Mary's Hospital, Paddington, in London before immigrating to Vancouver, BC, Canada in 1983.

How did you start running?

I have always been active in sports. At St Anne's convent school in Southampton I excelled in the 800 meter race, knowing in my heart at a young age that it was the idea of never giving up that allowed me to win races.

When and how did ChiRunning come into your life?

First came across the Chirunning book when running the Nike Women's marathon in San Francisco with Team in Training in 2006. I was recovering from a chronic and debilitating case of Achilles Tendonitis.  The words spoke to me and I attempted to teach myself from watching the video, and listening to online info, however it just didn't cut it!
Finally I decided to take a workshop with Danny in Denver, Colorado… well, you can guess where that ended up. I was certified as a ChiRunning instructor in 2009, having taken the CRCWIT with Mary Lindahl in Seattle.

In what ways has Chi changed your perception of and success in running?

Chi has been a major game changer in my life. When I first learned to apply the principles, it was strictly all about running to prevent being injured.
With the passage of time, it became clear that these sound principles, which are deeply rooted in the ancient practice of T'ai Chi, can be applied to many other areas of life.
ChiRunning and ChiWalking had fundamentally changed my approach to so many aspects of life. I am a cellist and have applied these principles to my practice, and they have taken me to another level. I am in love with the process!

What do you think is the biggest misconception of ChiRunning?

People think that it is too ethereal, or even a FAD, and there is an unwillingness to want to learn more due to its transcendental qualities! The biggest misconception or misunderstanding is mainly with people who are not open or willing to listen to the explanation, as it requires a curious open mind.

What motivates you to run?

The overall sense of well being and aliveness- it’s the most empowering activity I know!! Freedom, feeling energized, time alone when creative ideas come to me. Best conversations and sharing on a deep level when running with friends. And of course the endorphins!

What does your average week look like, run-wise?

I run 4 to 5 days a week, on average between 8 to 10 km. When training for a half or full marathon, I will make one of those runs the 'long run' increasing distance gradually!  I host a ChiRunning group on Sunday mornings, where we run for an hour and do the body loosening exercises and other T'ai chi-inspired exercises.

What other forms of exercise do you practice to complement ChiRunning?

Swimming, cycling and tennis are also a regular practice for me. I have been taking T’ai chi classes for the past 4 years. I also enjoy training for and participating in triathlons.

What led you to become an instructor?

Inspiration from Danny's teaching, as well as the yearning to help other people run injury free.

What do you most enjoy about instructing?

The people…always about meeting the most beautiful souls, many of whom have become dearest friends over the years! It is incredibly rewarding to share the knowledge, knowing that it can change lives! I love the fact that ChiRunning is international! Because traveling is dear to my heart, ChiRunning has opened up many travel opportunities as an instructor.

Advice for people new to ChiRunning?

Start applying the principles, slowly and incrementally. Think about it as a practice, like any other sport, and incorporate it into a daily routine or ritual. Keep returning to the main principles of relaxation and alignment, and keep it simple and make it fun! Above all else never give up! Join a ChiRunning group with like minded people to stay motivated. Take lessons, just like you would with learning to play a musical instrument!

Favorite race you’ve run and why:

Prague, Czech Republic 1998
First European marathon for me running on cobblestones through the heart of the city. It was in May and there was a classical music festival in full swing with street musicians serenading us throughout the run …….and I did a PR of 3:30. It was my second marathon and I surprised myself!

Most memorable race:

Boston 2004…….just being there!

Ideal weather for running:

Cool temps, warm breeze and I also love running in the rain (not for long distances though)

Focus that currently dominates your running:

These days, my focus always comes back to the mindfulness aspect of running. It is the mind that moves the chi, and the chi moves the body.

Favorite place to run:

Close to where I live at Jericho Beach. We have it all, the sea, the mountains and a beautiful park with trails …it is also where I teach! It is my Sanctuary!

Upcoming race/goal:

Victoria marathon, Vancouver Island in October 2016, which was also my first marathon in 1996.

Run with or without phone/music:

Without music… Though I do use my phone for the ChiRunning App.

My first race was:

Victoria marathon 1996 (celebrating my 40th birthday)

My current favorite shoe to run in is:

Altra, lone peak

My most difficult run ever was:

Phoenix Arizona, 2003. Hot, long straight paved roads. I did all the things I would advise people never to do: running through injury, not listening to my body, pushing, and not allowing adequate recovery time. Consequently, I was seriously injured and the recovery time was at least 3 months!!

If I didn’t run, I would need to find a different outlet for fitness and overall sense of well being. Nothing seems to come close to the benefits that running gives me. ChiRunning is allows me to stay running injury free. I will be forever grateful to Danny and Katherine for founding it!

Posted in Inside Chi

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