As aging continues its relentless march and I notice the physical changes, I have started looking at alternatives that will keep me out there with my running shoes on. One of those things has been something that I have been exploring for a few years now and it is the ChiRunning program. Basically, it is a program that uses TaiChi as a model for developing a long distance running program. Without going into a lot of detail, you develop a more efficient form, increase you turnover rate and incorporate a forward lean to use gravity to move you forward. There is a lot of other aspects to it, not the least of which is keeping awareness of all aspects of what you are doing and how you are doing it.
This has been quite valuable to me especially after having had the meniscectomy on my knee. It felt like the right thing landing in my lap at the right time and I have to say that it has made a big improvement in how my body responds to the mileage. Rarely am I sore the day after a run. Of course some of that has to do with the fact that in developing the program one starts slowly to get the running form and cadence down to second nature and then you move up. I didn't actually start off that way and just tried to run my usual speed while utilizing the form and still didn't feel the effects in my legs.
But there has been some lingering doubts about whether that was the best way to go. Just recently I came across a program developed by a guy named Phil Maffetone who had worked with a couple of big name triathletes (Mark Allen and Mike Pigg) who emphasized low heart rate work with increasing mileage to develop an aerobic base upon which to build one's training. I have never been successful at making myself go out at "painfully" slow paces. And the funny thing is that I always burned myself somewhere along the line. It's funny that I can remember when I used to run in PV mall bumping into a high school cross country coach and running with him one day and in talking to him he was emphasizing the same notion. Unfortunately, I didn't give him much heed.
All of the blather above is just to introduce what's going on with my running. I'm using the ChiRunning form and running at low intensity and it has brought a lot of pleasure to my training. And the fact that spring is here has just heightened the experience. I read a couple of blogs that gave me the idea of documenting my time with some photos so I purchased a small fanny from REI last weekend that will allow me to pack my Pentax Optio along so that you fortunate observers of this blog can be spammed with random photos from my journeys. Shall we get started?
This is my first trip out with the camera so I headed down to the Willamette which usually gives me something to shoot. The weather has been relatively nice and this proved to be a great day without too much sun to wash out the pictures.
The fountain is back up and running for Farmer's Market
I followed the path along the river down to where the Mary's River enters the Willamette to get a nice water shot. Just as I got there I spot these birds in the water and whip out and fire up the camera hoping to get some focused shot just so I can look in the Peterson book to i.d. them as they didn't look familiar.
A pair of Common Merganzers (White - male)
So I think that was a lucky happening to catch on my first outing when all of a sudden the remainder of the merganzer convention follows after them.
I actually took another shot just like this one of almost the same number of birds. We have never seen them on the river before so pretty interesting. But generally one just has to keep their eyes open a bit around here and you will see something of bird interest. Like an eagle chasing an osprey for the fish it is clutching.
After the merganzer parade moved through I got my picture of the Willamette with a nice heavy cloud formation hovering above.
I moved along the bike path that follows the Mary's River which is one of my favorite places to go because it reminds me of what I moved here for ... a richly forested running path next to a continuously running quiet river. Evidently, it didn't even cross my mind to photograph it.
From there, it was my return across Hwy 20/34 back into the OSU campus ... another dismal looking place ;-).
A fellow traveler on the path
All the while I am running, looking around and taking in as much possible. And in the end, I can't tell you how much I am enjoying my time ... which I might add is starting to get longer and longer. And physically I don't feel trashed the next day. Who knows where this could lead?