Lost Weight and Got Hooked on ChiRunning, Racing and the Triathlon Lifestyle

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I saw that you were asking for ChiRunning transformations by middle-age women. At 43, I guess I qualify as middle-age (although I don’t feel like it). I struggled with my weight for as long as I can remember and was a classic yo-yo dieter. Even though I was athletic as a kid, my level of activity declined over time and I found myself in the familiar cycle of crash dieting and then gaining all the weight back plus some. Things got really bad during law school and even worse after having my 3 kids. My weight ballooned to over 200 lbs. and long after the last of my kids was born in 2005, I could no longer call it baby weight. Despite having a great career and a thriving family, I was tired all the time and generally miserable. Finally, in 2008, I had enough of feeling sluggish and unhealthy. I signed up for a boot camp in January 2008 and haven’t looked back since. ChiRunning came into my life later that year. Once I had lost enough weight to feel like I could try running, I knew I had to learn how to run safely. I had always wanted to run, but in the past, I was unsuccessful in any attempt I made to start a running program. I ended up getting injured every time. This time I approached things smarter – I started with the Couch to 5K program and successfully worked up to running that distance. I completed my first race ever in June 2008, the JP Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge with many others from my company. It was one of the proudest moments of my life. I followed that achievement with my first triathlon in September 2008. I was officially hooked on running, racing and the triathlon lifestyle!

I felt a burning desire to run longer distances, but as I tried to build up my weekly mileage, things started going wrong. I ended up with lower leg injuries that sidelined me for weeks. I knew there must be a better way. I learned about ChiRunning through a friend who did triathlons and I took a ChiRunning class with Master Instructor Vince Vaccaro in October 2008. The concepts made so much sense to me and immediately, I started seeing improvements in my running. I ran my first 10K race in November 2008 with a time that was 5 minutes faster than I would have predicted. As I continued running, I had occasional setbacks along the way, but Vince was always there to help me get through the challenges (via email or in person). Vince inspired me with his own long distance achievements and supported me as I trained for my first marathon, which I completed in November 2010. I am looking forward to running my second marathon later this year.

When my company started a triathlon team, I asked Vince to teach ChiRunning to the whole team. As a result, several of the team members have fully embraced ChiRunning. I continue to “preach” the virtues of ChiRunning to all my running (or wishful running) friends and have encouraged others to learn more about it. Vince is always willing to give his time and energy to help anyone who asks. Many, many people are running better because of his generous spirit.

I can’t express in words how grateful I am for the gift of ChiRunning. Over the last couple of years, I have come to see ChiRunning as more than a technique for running better or for injury prevention. ChiRunning is a way of thinking and being that has a tremendous impact way beyond the time I spend running. I am much more in tune with my body and I have come to recognize the strength of the inner energy within me. I draw upon my Chi at times of stress and use the principles of ChiRunning to guide me in my daily life. As a busy working mom of 3 with a demanding job, I have many opportunities to practice calling upon my Chi every day!

I’ve attached a before/after picture to show you how I looked in 2007, and how I looked at the Pensacola Marathon in late 2010. Although it pains me to see my “before” picture, I hope my story will inspire others to consider ChiRunning and start on the journey that I have made. ChiRunning played a large part in my transformation and has changed the course of my life for the better.

Wendy R.