My T'ai Chi teacher, Master Xu, has a way of describing athletes who become really good at basic skills, but never get beyond using physical force to be successful at their sport or activity. "Top of their class in grade school," he would say, with laughter in his eyes. Basic skills are key to efficiency, relaxation, and form. The key is to integrate these skills into every movement and to trust that each movement does its part.
In running terms, "grade school" can be thought of as the time spent improving your running technique. Once you're running more efficiently and comfortably, you can begin to build distance—the "middle school" phase. With good running technique under your belt and a solid conditioning base, you are fully prepared to graduate to "college," or a half marathon or full marathon distance.
Every year, the number of runners choosing "college" continues to climb. Endurance running is a challenging way to reach physical and mental goals, and it can be a life-changing and joyful experience. Unfortunately, just as an unprepared student struggles when he or she moves up to the next level too quickly, so does a runner who takes on too much with an unprepared body and mind. Injury, disappointment, and an unfinished race are just a few consequences of inadequate training.
If you're a beginner runner considering a half or full marathon, a seasoned distance runner, or a performance athlete looking to improve your race times, Chi Running offers an effective way to train for longer distances. Traditional training strategies are to run, run, and run some more. These philosophies are only about increasing mileage so you can finish your race. Simply completing the distance is a great goal, but the Chi Running philosophy believes you can do a lot more than just cross the finish line. You can set a new PR, spend little to no time recovering... and do it all with a smile.
This is why "grade school," or the preparation phases of your training, is even more important than running endless miles. As you train for your next distance event, follow these seven manageable phases laid out in Chi Marathon: The Breakthrough Natural Running Program for a Pain-free Half Marathon and Marathon, Chi Running's course curriculum for mindful, productive training:
Visioning and Planning
Take time to plan your goals for training and the race itself. Ask yourself why you want to take on the half or full marathon distance. Real purpose helps motivate us and makes training and racing more fulfilling.
Learn the Chi Running technique and practice specific Form Focuses on every run. You'll begin to sense Chi (energy) in your body and learn that tension (and pain) is where chi is not flowing, where injury might occur, and how to relax and make the right adjustments.