A Palos Verdes Trail Running Love Affair

From L-R (Steve, Chad, Pat, Gary, Weitze)


I got the Chi Runners on my home turf. I was being open minded and flexible that day. I was going to see who would show then adjust the run to fit the levels.

Well, some experienced Chi Runners showed up.

Weitze – Just over 4 hr Marathoner and part of our Beach Runner groups. I’ve run and coached him many times.

Chad – Took our workshop last year. Just ran a sub 5 hr Phoenix Marathon.

Pat – Surfer/half marathoner. Knew the beauty of the area.

Brandon – Fellow Beach runner, ran his first marathon in 4:20.

Steve – My fellow coach. He’s always coaching and teaching. Considerate and motivating. Also a fine trail runner as I learned when he smoked me last year running up the top of Mt. Baldy.

Finally me – trail runner at heart, I grew up running PV trails, and since learning to run the “Chi” way, have gotten lightning fast downhill. And a lot faster uphill also.

Exercise can be boring for me if I run the same route the same way every time I go out. So I like to change it up. Makes it a little more interesting to go running. The body and mind likes variety. It tricks the body to getting stronger much faster. So I took a different start than I usually do.

So we did a hill to start the run. Good warmup, we were all huffing a little by the top. Important to save energy on hills, so I took my time and had a conversation with Pat. I hope I didn’t burn everyone out.

Once on the trail, I felt free to fly. Steve reminded me to slow down, but, man, I was so excited to be out there with these good runners.

The INSANE hill #2 was a bit steep. I had to walk a little of it. But by the time we finished that hill everyone was very warmed up. PV runners call this the Matterhorn, as the footing is dangerously loose. I took another one of our Beach Runners, a beautiful girl named Olivia, down this same trail and she managed it no problem. So with these studs I figuered no problem.

Then the bitching started. “Moderate my ass!”. “How much more to go?”. “How are you doing that in running shoes?”. Blah. Blah. Blah. “Get on with it.” I replied.

After the Matterhorn it leveled out and we ran a wonderful scenic single track to the final hill up to the top of PV. I ran with Chad, who is training for the Buffalo run in Catalina, a half marathon on trails. We were both commenting on the breathtaking view, the nature, how good it was to be out running in nature on a Sunday morning.

I felt fantastic. Maybe it was the daily juicing I’ve been doing. Maybe the mega doses of antioxidents, maybe the 2-3 yoga sessions a week, maybe feng shuiing my house, or maybe just I know how to conserve energy going up a hill due to my Chi Running, but, damn, my running is electric boogaloo right now.

The rest of the gang joined me at top. And the view from Del Cerro park is probably the best in the South Bay. A view of Catalina, the ocean, open space, fog rolling in, falcons, and crows circling.

The boys were stoked. We took a picture and said our thanks.

Then we ran downhill. I was just cruising, using no energy at all, flowing like water, yapping, working on opening up my hips. Worried I was losing everyone, I looked back and the boys were right there, just a few steps behind. We finished on a fast fast section, a chance to accelerate to a 6 or sub 6 minute mile pace. Flying.

I’ve had my doubts coming out of a glutonous Xmas season about my fitness. But January has been about running and yoga and nutrition. And my body is responding. And I was flying. I’m almost back to where I was last summer. I can feel it. That’s the beauty of a fitness base you develop from marathon training, it stays with you for a long time.

Again I waited no more than 2 minutes and everyone caught up. I sure hope more people learn Chi Running so they can run as well as these guys did Sunday. Smooth. Energy efficient. And tuned into nature and the Chi emanating all around us.

We took it easy and ran back to Trump’s golf course, quickly past the driving range, to a stretching session with Steve.

Chad, Pat, and Weitze loved the run. They got quite a treat that Sunday morning. We stretched to the view of the ocean. Talked about church, our bodies, our jobs, etc.

This run embodied everything I love about this website. Cool people, inspiring runs, and a spiritual focus.

INSANE? Maybe a little. But in a good way.

Run with Joy,


Gary’s “Moderate” PV Trail Run

Sunday, Jan. 28, Gary lead six of us on the trails of the Palos Verdes hills. It was a first for all of us except Gary. SoCalRunning.com members included Brandon, Pat, Weitze, Chad, Gary and myself. We started out with ChiRunning® “Body Looseners” and a quick discussion about ChiRunning® hill running techniques.

About the run, I forget who yelled it first, “I thought this was suppose to be MODERATE!” Well it started out moderately INSANE. First was a very steep paved road to get to the trailhead, followed by a downhill section. We were all excited to be on the trail and in nature.

Then we hit our first really steep hill. It was early and we were feeling strong. The trail kept going up and getting steeper. Add to that loose dirt and rocks, our trail run turned into a hike. I could feel the back of my calves stretch with each step. It was a difficult section that lasted about 1/2 hour. At the top of this section, Brandon who is just getting back into the running mode, decided to flip it here.

After that the trail continued uphill and was more manageable. Much of it was single track in brush head high. It was really cool. We got to the top and took the picture above.

Now, it was time for the downhill, Gary’s specialty. We decided to run fire roads the way down. Practicing our ChiRunning® downhill skills, we did our best to keep up with Gary.

We hooked up at the bottom of the fire road and ran at leisurely pace for about a mile back to the car. The total run time was around 1:40:00 and my guess is about 7 miles. The view from the top was great and being out in nature was an awesome way to get in some high quality training.

If you are available this, Super Bowl Sunday morning, join us in Pasadena. I promise this weekend’s trail run be easier, more moderate. We will run along a creek with a few crossing. For more info Click Here.

Train Focused,


Tuesday Track Workout 1-24-06

In only three weeks, the track workout is getting stronger and with many new faces. Last night, Tuesday, we had 15 people running 400s. It was the first track workout for some while others were there for the quality training. It was an awesome January night, perfect running weather and the second week we had lights on at the track.

Just practicing some simple ChiRunning® techinques, many people’s lap times lowered. The ChiRunners that have taken a ChiRunning® workshop with Gary and I, really looked good. At the same time, ChiRunner, Robert forgot his metronome and noticed the difference.

I was running laps at different cadences. I started out at 184 SPM (strides per Minute) with longer strides and worked up 190. What do you think happened? Well since we were maxing our heart rates, my times stayed fairly consistent. My stride shortened slightly as I got up to 190. The best news for me and many of us was last night’s laps were faster than the first weeks. And Rachel told me beside the workout she loves the stretching routine I take us through afterwards. Thanks Rachel!

Join us next week, (more info) and I have a good feeling they’ll “leave the lights on for you”

Don’t forget the group Trail Run, Sunday in PV.

Train Focused,


January Trail Run

January Trail Run in Palos Verdes with Steve and Gary

January 29th @ 9 a.m

Click here for more info

New ChiRunning® Workshop Added!

For more info, please click on the link below

January ChiRunning Workshop

Best Winter in Years – for Training


Paul and Sky in the Pasadena Mountains

It has been an unbelievable winter in Southern California for running and training in general. I can’t tell you how many times in the last three weeks, I have been training with one of the athletes I coach, and the new day is even better than the time before. We have run in it all, wind, rain, cool, warm and hot days.

Today was a cold morning after the winds ripped through here. The air was crystal clear, the creeks are flowing, the birds were chirping and trails were fresh. The old footprints were washed away by Saturday’s rain and there is a whole new look to hills. So I got on the phone, called Paul, hopped in the car and hit the trailhead.

Paul brought Sky along for the run. We followed a local creek on an uphill trek for 3 miles. It was difficult keeping my cadence at 90 on the trail with all the rocks and roots. I used my ChiRunning® short strides and arms to help me climb the trail. When we stopped Sky needed a swim. We threw sticks into a pool and watched Sky retrieve.
We turned around and headed home with clean air in our lungs and feeling lucky to have all this in our backyard. My Chi was renewed.

I liked it is so much I decided to use this trail for a SoCalRunning.com Group Run. How about a pre Super Bowl run? Check the Monthly Trail Run link for a Sunday, February 5, 2006, trail run. We’ll start at 8:30 a.m.

Train Focused,


Running Paradigms, Mine Is ChiRunning®, What Is Yours?

With the start of a new year many people are thinking about getting back in shape and what better way than running. But whether you are a long time runner or brand new to the sport, it may be time to check your running form and pick a running paradigm.

There are plenty of running paradigms out there. What’s a paradigm? I like to think of one as a belief system or a map. Merriam-Webster defines it as:
1: pattern; especially: an outstandingly clear or typical example or archetype
2: an example of a conjugation or declension showing a word in all its inflectional forms
3: a philosophical and theoretical framework of a scientific school or discipline within which theories, laws, and generalizations and the experiments performed in support of them are formulated; broadly: a philosophical or theoretical framework of any kind

So what is yours? Maybe it is time to define your style. That is why I turned to ChiRunning® and why I teach it. I was running the way I had ran in high school, without coaching. I played water polo and was never on the track team. I was dealing with nagging injuries. So what did I know? Let alone the principles in ChiRunning®. It was time for a change.

My first belief is that running is good for you. Second, I have found a system that focuses on biomechanics and physics on a scientific level, and Chi on a physical/mental/spiritual level. A system that teaches efficiency, teaches runners to become aware of their bodies, what their body is doing and how it is feeling. It teaches alignment and ease. No wonder I liked it.

It is important to find the system that works best for you, because in order to run your best you have to practice your system’s principles. Unless of course you just “run” to “run,” and that is not a bad thing either. I don’t like to judge running paradigms. I know what works for me and I like to encourage people to run.

I bring all this up because this year all my running times were faster than ever in my key races. I believe it is because I have bought into a system that works for me. It didn’t come easy. It took ChiRunning® founder, Danny Dreyer reminding me that what I did in the past wasn’t necessarily what I was going to do in the future. I had to let go of some of my past beliefs. I didn’t know how I was going to do it, let alone get others to do it, but as he suggested, teach ChiRunning® and let it happen for itself. And if you have worked with me, it may have happened for you or at least, opened you up to some new running thoughts.

If you don’t have a system, if you are looking for a system or want something new, I suggest you check out ChiRunning®. Go to the ChiRunning web site or email me. Gary and I are here to help if you are interested. Try one of our Group Runs and keep checking this site. It will be updated every few days. If what you see starts to make sense to you, think about trying a ChiRunning® workshop or a private lesson. Just remember, we are happy that you are here and running, but if you are interested in getting better it takes specific practice and we can give you plenty to practice. Keep running!

Train Focused,


New Year Resolutions – How To Make Them Work

Find a running friend

Let’s face it, most of us do better keeping resolutions when we create accountability to others, not just ourselves. Making a New Year’s resolution is a tricky proposition. Many times we last a month or two, if that long, and let our noble ideas go down the drain. That is why you should consider ways to create addition accountability to others. But if you discuss your resolutions with others, be careful whom you choose. It is important to make yourself accountable to people that will support you, not criticize you or think you will fail.

Negativity, self-doubt, and lack of confidence can only take you one place but positivity and self-esteem can take you many places, always a direction that is best for you. For example, consider you have the goal to run a marathon or half marathon this year. If you continually tell yourself how far it is and how long it is going to take you will probably have a long, difficult day, if you make it at all. But if you took the positive route, no distance would be too far or take too long. Now, add in the proper training and you have a recipe for success. Add in a support group, like family, friends and training partners and your day will be one will positive energy and memorable experiences.

So, as you consider your New Year resolutions, be your own best friend. Keep your thoughts and feelings positive about your new behaviors, even if you slip up every once and while. Create accountability, only tell people your goals that will support you and go about your business with the others.

If you are a runner or want to become a runner join a group or find a running buddy and that task seems daunting, SoCalRunning.com is here to help. Join our community, read our blog, stay motivated, join us for a run and let us know how it is going.

Happy New Year! Make 2006 the year to realize goals and dreams.

Train Focused,


Getting fit after the holidays

I have to admit a little secret.

I did some overindulging over the holidays. I can’t help it. Everywhere I go, there is food, food, and even more food: crab appetizers, chicken sticks, pastries, turkey, stuffing, candy, chocolate cookies, eggnog, tamales, the list goes on and on.

Add to that a few drinks. And other late night revelry.
This morning I looked at my running outfit and said…enough gluttony!

It’s time to start training again. Steve Mackel and I trained over 200 people this last summer for the Long Beach Marathon. We had the largest ChiRunning® marathon group in the country. We ran far longer distances than other running groups in preparation. And all injury free.

I was skinny, and fast. Did the marathon in 3:32 despite only running three times a week. Not a single injury at all.

But I’ve let that slip a little. I typically take quite some down time after a marathon. I really think it’s important to rest your body.

So now, its that time of year to put a new race on the books. A new challenge for my running. And Catalina is calling.

I want to run the Catalina Marathon. So tonight I will put in on the Calendar. Then figure out what I need to run every weekend to prepare. Then put together a weekly training schedule. Then stick to it.

Started this morning. Ran to White Point in San Pedro. Ran down to the ocean. Stood on the point and felt the energy of the ocean flowing through me. Saw some strange birds, watched surfers, said a prayer, and just felt good to be alive.

Good to be back training. Running, walking, and eating a little lighter for the planet.

Happy New Years Everyone


Welcome To SoCalRunning.com

Developed, maintained and operated by Certified ChiRunning® Instructors Steve Mackel and Gary Smith, we welcome you to explore and participate in our enjoyment of running. This site is intended for every level of runner, from absolute beginner to ultra-marathoner. Being ChiRunning® Instructors, our focus is promoting the concepts of ChiRunning®, reducing running injuries and increasing the enjoyment of running. SoCalRunning.com is open to everyone and every running style.

We wanted to make sure this site was up by the Jan. 1, 2006 so we are starting small but look for ever increasing content and events. Bookmark this site to check for our ChiRunning® workshops, group runs, articles, reviews, races, pictures, newsletters and member input.

We have big plans for this site and we hope you will join us in building a local running community that runs for a purpose. This site promotes health in all aspects of your life… mind, body, spirit, and integrates them all in your running practice. Please consider joining our community.

Train Focused,                         Run With Joy,

Steve                                       Gary,