July 2017 Instructor of the Month: Vince Vaccaro

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Vince Vaccaro is one of our most active Instructors, constantly teaching new and seasoned runners how to harness the power of Chi in their own running practice. He is dedicated to his own goals as a runner as well, having completed multiple 100k races – most recently the Lighthouse 100 in June of this year! Read on to discover what drives Vince, his favorite training tips and what he thinks about while running.

Tell us a little about you. Where you live, what your background is.
Vince Vaccaro – I grew up in Queens New York where my Family lives today. Since graduating with a degree in Recreation & Leisure Studies I moved to Pennsylvania where I operated a recreation company servicing second home communities throughout the Poconos. A call from a friend brought me to New Hampshire. What was intended to be six months has developed into 27 years and counting. I currently own and operate a 24 hour convenience store in addition to an event management company.

How did you start running?
I have run all my life. High School provided my first taste of competition and a structured running program. I competed in cross country at the collegiate level but after two years was broken. It wasn’t till 2002 that a friend invited me to run the NYC Marathon. It was a slow start but I found ChiRunning at the following year’s marathon expo. I haven’t stopped since!

When and how did ChiRunning come into your life? (The short story.)
I came across ChiRunning at the 2003 NYC Marathon Expo. I figured I would have plenty of reading / recovery time after the marathon if it went as well as the prior year. I did! My first steps back from the marathon were using the ChiRunning technique. I’ve been practicing ChiRunning ever since.

In what ways has Chi changed your perception of and success in running?
Running is no longer hard! Running is now fun! The days of “no pain, no gain” are long gone. ChiRunning has enabled me to run any distance, any day I choose. The technique (to date) has enabled me to complete 54 marathons, 4 ultra-marathons, and 3 Ironman competitions. This year I have a couple marathons, ultras, and an Ironman already scheduled.

What do you think is the biggest misconception of ChiRunning?   
I believe the biggest misconception of ChiRunning is that you need to know Chi (Tai Chi). It is quickly followed by a feeling that one needs to work harder to be better. Both are very far from the truth. 

What motivates you to run?
EVERYTHING!!!! I consider myself fortunate in that I don’t need a reason to run. A running partner, beautiful day, challenging day all are additional motivators.

What does your average week look like, run-wise?
When I am not in training mode I will average 20-30 miles a week. I will adjust my mileage toward a specific event. Currently I have increased my weekly mileage to 60. I have a 100 mile run in my near future.  

What other forms of exercise do you practice to complement ChiRunning?
I participate in most sports. Summer time activities include miles of swimming and biking.

What led you to become an instructor?
I enjoy teaching. Sharing new ideas with people is exciting. Knowing how much the ChiRunning Technique has helped me motivates me to share this technique. ChiRunning has brought happiness into my life.

What do you most enjoy about instructing?
Watching the expressions of clients as they realize they are moving without the pain that has hindered their movement. Nothing can be better than receiving a thank you letter from a client telling me of their success. To date I have received letters from clients telling me how they have put off knee and hip replacements and completed running events of varying distances. My favorite thank you came from an elderly Grandmother that was able to run and play with her Grandchildren because of ChiRunning.

Advice for people new to ChiRunning?
Allow practice time. ChiRunning is not learned in a single class. Continue to practice aligning and relaxing. Don’t be surprised if you find your aligning and relaxing moving from your daily runs to your daily life.

Favorite race I've run and why:
I think my favorite race was the Tahoe Triple.  It consists of three consecutive marathons run around Lake Tahoe. It was my first time running back to back to back marathons. The route around Lake Tahoe has challenging terrain surrounded in the beauty that is the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The weather also proved to be a challenge. One day I started in six inches of snow that ended with temperatures in the 80’s. I ran through the seasons.

Most memorable race:
The first time I paced the NYC Marathon! It was great helping so many runners achieve their goal time. I’m pacing the 4:25 group this year. It will be a 4 hour ChiRunning lesson. Join me or say hello if you are running.

Ideal weather for running:  
I love a warm day. Not too cold but not very hot.

Focus that currently dominates my running:
I am currently focusing on a relaxed arm swing and hip rotation around my column. Combined I am planning on an efficient 100 mile run.

Favorite place to run:  
I enjoy running on a beach or path around a lake.

Upcoming race/goal:
I will be running the Lighthouse 100 on June 10th.  It will be my second 100 mile run. This race has three goals; 1st create no injuries, 2nd finish, 3rd complete the run in 23 hours or less.

Run with or without phone/music: 
I run without outside music. I do my best to listen to myself. I am a big believer in positive thoughts.
At times I sing to myself. During a race I go between an old Molly Hatchet song (Flirting with Disaster) and Queen’s Another One Bites the Dust.

If I didn’t run, I would:
Swim & Bike

My first race was:
Cross country in High School

My current favorite shoe to run in is:
I am running in Inov-8 lite 195’s and Salming R1

My most difficult run ever was:
Each race brings with it its own set of challenges (difficult course, unseasonal weather, how I feel) but for me it would have to be the Daytona 100. It was my first 100 miler and while I was physically prepared I was mentally not ready for the race. All was fine till I realized I was running without seeing another participant for hours. I did not know this was normal for an ultra. Not seeing anyone caused me to not trust my training. Not believe in myself. I began to walk just because. It wasn’t till the 80 mile aid station that my lifelong friend talked some sense into me. I knew I had to move to make my goal time of less than 24 hours. Negativity was still about. I saw other runners walking and running. I thought I had better do the same. With 10 miles to go my crew gave me one last pep talk. This one stuck! I took off at about a 10 -12 minute pace. I started catching and passing other runners. I finished that run in 23 hours 52 minutes. I placed 42nd out of app. 115. While I’m very proud of my accomplishment, I am looking forward to my next 100. I will trust in my ChiRunning technique.

Thank You Katherine & Danny!

Posted in Inside Chi

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