Man oh man…I went for an awesome trail run a few days ago and what a beauty it was! It was beautiful because of the scenery of course…it was beautiful because it cleared my head and provided the perfect space to ‘reset’ my mind. But most importantly it was beautiful because I realized that now, when I run, I run completely FREE.

What does that mean? I mean FREE to flow through it. To totally and completely do what my body is telling me to do and to be OK with it. To feel awesome every step of the way instead of struggling to put one foot in front of the other.

What I realized was… WOW what a difference between now and then! When was the last time you had a run like that? Completely pain free, emotionally free and flowing – listening 100% to what your body wants from you.

Or have you? Have you ever felt light, free, flowing and pain free?

Are you still solely focused on running to beat your “personal best”? Come on… be honest here. I am not saying there is anything wrong with it but I see too many runners (and other athletes) out there push push pushing through aches, tightness, soreness, poor recovery in order to keep hobbling their way to the end of their runs no matter what their body is telling them.

I used to be like that. Oh was I ever like that. I can’t tell you the number of times I was running with a group of people – all of us side by side in stride – super proud of our “distance” or comparing race times… right along with our list of chronic injuries that is!

The topic of conversation always went like this:

What distance did you run? Hmmm well,

What was your time? …. Really?

How are you feeling? (As in…what’s broken?)

One day after finishing a run and recovering from a list of injuries that took way too long to heal, I realized – this is NOT going to be sustainable! I want to run forever and do it pain free with a smile on my face! I want to run on the beach, in the woods, on a mountain, in Italy. I want to run cool events all over the world and really enjoy my time there instead of being so absorbed in how to manage or avoid any more injures!

So in a nutshell here it is. After a lot of research studies, working on myself and my clients, it basically chalked up to these things. Here is WHY you are still getting hurt, not leaning out and way too tired…

1. Poor Nutrition! Great at training, terrible at picking the right foods to eat before, during and after a run. ALSO super important here is understanding what your goals are. Are you wanting to lean out? If so you definitely need to understand nutrition b/c you can’t out train poor nutrition!

2. Poor Recovery! Training too hard for too long without proper rest, stretching and balancing of the tissues and nervous system results in longer recovery time, decreases in performance and higher injury rate. To stay fresh and strong, you must be smart about what you do BETWEEN your workouts.

3. Inability to “Tune In”. You run to get away from it all then ignore your bodies cues and blast loud music to keep you going. Take more time to pay attention to how your body and energy levels feel around your training. Is your heart racing? Are you muscles tight? Are your shoulders tense? Cramping? Your body is talking to you…

4. Breathing too Shallow. This is a biggie and one that needs a lot of work but start focusing on slowing down the pace and lengthening your breath as you run. Get away from panting and start creating a flow. Focus on it. Try to link your breath with movements such as 3 steps in, 3 out and maintain a steady rythm. Our body loves rhythm.

Once I switched things around, started tweaking a few things and really focus on my personal goals

Here’s what I found…

1. I am not ‘scavenging’ for food all day like a crazy woman attacking the pantry after runs. I feel great and recover fast by understanding what my body needs to nourish pre-during and after running.

2. I am recovering sooooo much faster between workouts! Because I TUNED DOWN the volume and focused on quality.

3. I feel FREE instead of tight. Because I stop. If I feel something is tight or doesn’t feel right, I pull over. Yup. Right there and then. I stop running and start walking or do a few yoga stretches or take the time to BREATHE.

4. I enjoy my runs and my environment A LOT more! I get to really enjoy the scenery (the lake, the trail, the trees, my pup) because I am actually looking up instead of constantly looking at that darn Garmin!

5. I haven’t been injured. Ya that’s right.

6. I am just as LEAN if not leaner than I was back then with all that volume. Weird right? No, not really but that’s an entire topic for another day.

7. And finally …would you believe this one? My times are almost exactly the same! I may be a few seconds slower but not by much and there are times I have even beat my old personal bests. But I did so on my terms and felt awesome. And really in the end I have to ask myself WHY am I running today? Am I here to win this thing or to really run strong, feel like I am soaring and finish with a high?

So in a nutshell here it is. Once I started doing these things INTENTIONALLY my life as a runner changed. My experience changed. Yours can too.

Here is your next challenge. Next time you go for a run.

1. Ditch the watch and the iPod and tune in.

2. Run somewhere totally awesome and just run. Listen to your body.

3. IF you feel tight, stop and walk or stretch but really be OK with doing it.

4. IF you are sucking wind, slow down and fully breathe. I love CHI running for this.

Need more help? Running (or Cycling or whatever sport you do) really well and doing it pain free means training smart. If you are unsure where to start or how to adjust your programming reach out to us and book a consult. We will have you on your way to a stronger, more pain free lifestyle before you know it. Don’t forget to check us out on Facebook for tips, public workshops and events!

Until next time – run strong but run FREE!

Christine Line, owner