November 2017 Instructor of the Month: Gray Caws

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Tell us a little about you. Where you live, what your background is. What (if) you do in addition to being a Certified Instructor.

I’m Gray Caws and I teach ChiRunning in London, UK. In May 2010 I attended a workshop with Danny Dreyer. This encouraged me to train to become a Certified ChiRunning Instructor.

In 2012 I qualified as a Personal Trainer, Master Kettlebell Instructor and ChiRunning and ChiWalking Coach. In 2014 I was appointed Master Instructor and Director of ChiRunning UK & Ireland and I am now responsible for the management and development of ChiRunning across this region.

In 2016 I trained as an Oxygen Advantage Instructor with Patrick McKeown and became the first UK Certified Instructor, teaching a programme of breathing exercises which perfectly complement my other teachings.

I work full-time with clients on a 1-2-1 and also hold regular ChiRunning and Oxygen Advantage workshops in London, across the UK and Europe. I train new instructors in the ChiRunning and Oxygen Advantage methods.

In April of this year I visited Oman in the Middle East to deliver ChiRunning Performance workshops incorporating the Oxygen Advantage technique.

In June I traveled to the US to work with Danny Dreyer at a week-long ChiRunning retreat in the Kripalu Yoga Centre, Massachusetts.

For my continued professional development I see a Personal Trainer weekly and keep updated on current health, fitness and training developments. My current training includes body-weight strength training to compliment my running programme. I have run marathons, half marathons, numerous 10ks and my first venture into ultras was the Royal Parks Ultra Marathon in 2014.


How did you start running?
In my early 40s I decided to get fit before 50 so joined a gym. To cut a long story short I discovered that I could ‘find my own space’ when running.

When and how did ChiRunning come into your life? (The short story.)
I wanted to practice the best running technique. After searching on the internet I came across ChiRunning, bought the book, found that it made a lot of sense so started following the principles and practicing the exercises.

In what ways has Chi changed your perception of and success in running?
Through ChiRunning I’ve learned that running is not just a cardiovascular exercise. Bey incorporating the principles of ChiRunning into every-day life I have not only improved my fitness but also my health and general outlook on life.

What do you think is the biggest misconception of ChiRunning?
ChiRunning is often considered a ‘one-size fits all’ technique but find a good coach and you’ll soon realize it is not.

What motivates you to run?
Keeping myself healthy, energizing the body and seeing the improvements in my clients.

What achievements are you most proud of?
Being able to get up and move every day, keep myself fit and healthy and enjoying doing so.

What led you to become an instructor?
Discovering the benefits of ChiRunning for myself, I wanted to share with others. Watching other runners I knew that by offering just a few simple cues I could help improve their form.

Why do you enjoy being an instructor, and how has it affected your life?
I love continuing professional development, gaining knowledge, learning new skills and sharing these with others to help improve their lives.

What does your average week look like, run-wise?
I run most days with clients even if it is just a few miles. I follow a marathon ‘maintenance’ programme, building up weekly or every 10-days to long runs of up to 20 miles, usually over a 6 week period. Occasionally I will add in two long back-to-backs. I mix in fartlek, hills, interval and tempo runs but bearing in mind that ultimately I need to work my own training around that of my clients. The most important part of my training is ensuring that I get plenty of quality rest and recovery to avoid overtraining – daily meditation helps me achieve this.

What other forms of exercise do you practice to compliment ChiRunning?
There are many other techniques, methods and practices that complement ChiRunning. I am also a Personal Trainer, Oxygen Advantage Coach and Master Kettlebell Instructor, so I combine all of these disciplines in my own practice and also the practice of my clients. I also practice Feldenkrais, TRE, and GMB movement techniques.

Advice for people new to ChiRunning?
First and foremost ask yourself why you want to run and be honest with yourself. Never ‘try’ to run. Listen to your body and run within your own capabilities, don’t compare yourself to others. Don’t rely on others telling you what to do.  Take control of your own motivation and behaviour and be confident in your abilities. A good coach is one that will help you along this path. A good coach will never tell you what do do but encourage you to discover the most efficient way of doing it for youreself.

Favorite race you’ve run and why: Royal Parks Ultra, London – first ultra marathon

Ideal weather for running: All

Focus that currently dominates your running: Relax and enjoy

Favorite place to run: I loving running with clients on my ChiRunning Costa Brava Adventure

Go-to before race food: I never change my diet for a race plus I don’t race a lot or put a big emphasis on racing

Celebratory food after: As above

Upcoming race/goal: To run and run

Run with or without phone/music: Without

If I didn’t run: I would make sure I keep fit and healthy in some other way. I’m not obsessed with running.

My first race was: the Walkington 10k in 2005 and I loved it.

My current favorite shoe to run in: Earthrunners

My most difficult run ever was: the final long training run (22 miles) for the 2009 London Marathon when I was stuck down with acute pancreatitis at mile 17 and spent the following week in hospital and had to defer my place to 2010.

I’ve ran numerous: marathons/races.

The longest distance I’ve ran: 50k at the Royal Parks Ultra Marathon, London.

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