The worst thing about everything that is going on – all those “black swan” events that seem to be raging around us…well for me at least, is that I have even more difficulty focusing on writing and working at controlling the things that I can control.
I don’t believe that I am alone with these thoughts, mood swings and the inability to focus on the positive things that we still have in our lives.
However, my running is one that I do control, at least when I am not injured, then I have very little control until the body heals or repairs whatever I have done to it this time.
I am back on the road to recovery and this time I am pretty sure that my injury woes this time were again – self-induced. This most recent funk, has forced me to look at what I was doing differently than I had been most of the year. So for the past week I have attempted to figure out why my lower back, right arse cheek and hamstrings have been bothering me so much over the past three weeks.
It seems there is a direct correlation to those problems to when I started doing both Pose Method daily warm-up routine and then things got worse when I added in Running Yoga.
When I stopped the Pose Method daily warm-up things started to get better, so I blamed the Pose Method for most of my recent problems and moved over to Chi Running Method, which in turn seemed to be part of the solution.
However, my problems while better, did not completely resolve either and were at best in that “yes, I can run”, but there is still more discomfort than I really want to deal with level.
So I didn’t do the Running Yoga video for three consecutive days and amazingly the lower back, arse cheek and right leg felt a bit better. Then on Tuesday, I did the Running Yoga video again and that evening and next morning my lower back/right leg and both hamstrings were bothering now.
Frustrating to say the least, but at least I had some ideas on what was going on.
With those two things in mind, it gave me the idea to do some research on exercises that bother the lower back, glutes or aggravate the hamstrings. I found that multiple sources believe that static stretches like standing or sitting toe touches put too much pressure on the lower back and hamstrings, which in turn can cause inflammation, discomfort, strains, etc.
In other words many of the exercises in the Pose Method warm-up routine and some of the poses in the Running Yoga video may not have been the best thing for me and how my body reacts to that kind of stretching. Especially, as an older runner who is not very flexible to begin with. I haven’t been able to touch my toes in years and my physical therapist described me best when she said that my ankles and legs were about as flexible as two 2x4s nailed together.
While I like a lot about the ChiRunning method, I have reached that point where it stops making sense to me every time I have attempted to use it. Even though I have watched the videos, listened to interviews with Danny Dreyer, re-read the chapter from both books and even wrote out in long hand excerpts from the books in hopes that I would have that “aha” moment and things would finally make sense.
Alas there has been no “aha” moment.
The biggest obstacle to ChiRunning for me is the idea of not using my muscles when running…it just does not make a lot of sense to me. They are large muscles that are designed to move the body, not just go along for the ride. So I have come up against the usual wall that I have with ChiRunning.
I get the theory that having a lean and then “falling” forward to allow gravity to help the muscles not work as hard, but the glutes, hamstrings, quads, along with the fascia and bones in the upper legs are all are pretty damn good sized for a reason. At least in my uneducated opinion, they have over the millenia adapted to do at least some or more likely most of the work of running.
Moving forward what does this mean?
I like a lot of the philosophy behind Chi running and always seem to come back to it when I get injured, but come up to the brick wall of “not using” my legs which doesn’t really make sense to me, but otherwise I do well with the method. I do like the focus on body sensing and posture, both of which I need to improve and the warm-up exercises feel right. The form focuses are actually very good and force me to think about what I am doing while running and while there is some structure to learning the method, but at times it is confusing and kind of haphazard.
It is almost like you gotta do it for a long time and then suddenly everything clicks. Unfortunately, time is not really on my side at this point in my life, so I need something a little less open-ended. Yes, a nod to the statistical fact that I am closer to dying than I ever have been before = that reality check thing that I do more often now.
However, I am not going to give up completely on ChiRunning.
Unfortunately, the Pose Method isn’t perfect either, the focus on static stretches in the daily warm-up do not work for this older athlete and I believe that there are some other body weight work methods that I have done that are more in line with what my body needs to get stronger, more flexible and better able to handle the demands of the Pose Method while running.
However, the journal entry focuses, lessons and drills are really what I am looking for in a program. It provides a flexible structure for me that I do not have otherwise. Something that will guide me progressively and make me stop reflect on what on progress I am making or difficulty I have with some part of the training. I have gone through lessons 1-3 again this week and when I use them in conjunction with some of the ChiRunning focuses they seem to make more sense. Looking at lessons 4-6, I have a feeling that they will answer a lot of my questions about the actual running part of the Pose Method.
The reality is that
At age 63 I will never have what is considered beautiful running form again.
Over the years, there have been too many injuries, age induced physical decline (but not as quickly as some seem to think) and a grudging acknowledgement of the old man shuffle that so many of us older runners seem to accept as our new normal (which as you can see I am not all that keen on accepting quite yet).
Realistically, the best I can hope for is some improvement in efficiency, introducing a bit of lean vs running upright, landing more under my hips versus the stiff legged heel first pile driver that I do most of the time, a little more flexibility in the hips and get my cadence up out of the 160s. In other words avoiding the old man shuffle and continue to run, maybe not like a Kenyan, but better than I am now.
If I can do those kind of things, I will be happy.
Since I like parts of both the ChiRunning and Pose Running, I am planning to take the parts that work and use them going forward, while disregarding the ones that do not work for me physically or philosophically. After all I am an experiment of one and there is nothing saying that I cannot modify either method to meet my needs. While it might not be pure Chi or Pose running, at which adherents to the pure form of either will go “you can’t do that”, to which I will respond – but I can.
So I will be doing some combination of Chi-Pose/Pose-Chi running method and mostly Jay Dicharry’s strength/body work routines (which were working quite well until I quit going to the gym back in March), along with foam rolling after most runs are finished.
Nothing about training this old body is written in stone and to be honest, I think that as I age, doing the same things I have always done in training will no longer work, hell they haven’t worked that great for a lot of years.
While I will admit it would have been my preference for either ChiRunning or the Pose Method to have been the complete answer I was looking for, neither one is. Which means that I have to improvise to move forward in the directions that I would like to go with my running as I continue to get older.
So here is to ChiPose or PoseChi with a splash of Dicharry on the side.