Running with good posture

I can be a real bum.

Let me explain. I love to slouch. I was one of those students
in the back of the classroom, butt practically hanging off the front
of the seat, creating this 45 degree angle for my body. I like to sit
at my computer, feet up on the desk, neck crooked, feeling like a
take-it-easy-I’ve-already-made-it-to-the-top-of-the-ladder CEO.

I love couches. Don’t have to sit up on a couch. Can slouch sideways,
long-ways, diagonally, horizontally, and probably other positions I
haven’t figured out yet.

Well my slouching days caught up to me two years ago.

I had excruciating neck pain that was sending electrical shocks down
my arms. It was hard to sleep, dance, concentrate, relax, everything.

Went to numerous massage therapy sessions, which felt great. Then two
or three days later the pain would return.

Eventually ended up at a chiropractor. He took x-rays, found a
million things wrong with my spine, and wanted thousands of dollars
to get it back to where it should be.

Not having thousands of dollars at the time, I began to do my own

Spoke to some doctor and physical therapy friends of mine. Researched
the net.

Then stumbled on this amazing book, The McKenzie Method, at Borders.

Found out some interesting facts. Primarily, neck and back pain is a
major epidemic in this country. Millions and millions of people are
suffering from it. Like 1 in 2 people. All my friends, even though we
are only in our thirties, have neck and back pains of one sort or
another. There’s chiropractors on every corner. Back surgeries are
common. The numbers are staggering.

McKenzie had one simple explanation for this epidemic:

Bad Posture!

He an even simpler solution:

Practice good posture.

That’s not what I wanted to hear. And I don’t think my chiropractor
wanted to hear that.

No more slouching? No more sitting with my feet up? No more sitting
crooked on the couch?

Well, all-right, he had more in the book than that. I simple set of
exercises, that when I began practicing them, alleviated my pain

So I began practicing some of his suggestions:

1. I sat upright.
2. I got lumbar support (small pillow) for the small of my back while
3. Bought a decent pillow that had neck support.
4. Tried to sleep on sides and back rather than my stomach.
5. Didn’t put my feet up on the desk (well, not as much)
6. Did his 15-20 minutes of exercises.

And you want to know what happened as I practiced good posture?

Neck pain went away. It returns every now and then, yet each time it
does, it’s because I’ve gone back to natural slouching, lazy ways.

So what does this story have to do with Chi Running?


What’s the first thing Steve and I taught you in our workshops?


I’m not going to tell you how to do again in this letter. Read the
book (62-71). Practice the exercises. Stand with good posture and
really feel it for 10 minutes a day. In this Chi Running posture, you
will feel your lower abdomen holding you in place. That’s the
sensation you want to have when running. Your abs should
be working.

In fact, you should be practicing this good posture all day long.
Every chance you can.

Steve and I call this good posture your column. Each time your foot
hits the ground, their should be straight line connecting your ankle,
hips, and shoulders. Look in a mirror. Do you have that straight

What I really want to share with you this week (after being so long
winded. My grandfather, rest his soul, always said he received
novels, not letters from me) is the importance of, take a guess:


We need to remind ourselves of good posture again because we are
running long distances now. Really long distances. Longer than many
of you have ever run before in your life. Congratulations, I’m so
proud of everyone.

And you’re getting tired on your runs. I am.

Then your abs start to not hold you in place. Your shoulders get
heavy. You begin slouching. Collapsing you upper body. Reducing lung
capacity. Starting to heel strike. And every-step just gets heavier
and heavier.

Like running through thick Vermont Molasses.

“But I felt so good just two miles ago.”

In a marathon situation, the molasses typically set in about miles
15-20. Everything slows down for you. And you still have 10 more
miles to run!!!

Well as Chi Runners we know what to do in this situation.

Check your posture! Make sure you have a straight column, lean, and
are picking up your feet. Simple. And breathe!

This week, during my form intervals, I have been focusing on my

I want to feel that straight line when I land in my one legged
posture stance. I imagine a cosmic string pulling the top of my
head up to heaven (I swear, I get one inch taller with this

I look 30-50 feet ahead of me, finding an object to look at which
shoots a rubber band out to my chest, pulling me in effortlessly.
If I look at the ground when I run, then my head droops, causing
me to slouch. No good.

I do this for a minute. Really trying to get the sensation.

Then my Timex Ironman Interval Timer on my watch beeps.
After which, I try to just relax, chanting something funny like
“SAT NAM” or “Lemon Curry”, and have fun. I try to notice
any tension, and try to relax it.

Watch beeps again, and I focus on my posture again.

So even though I’m running pretty well right now, miraculously
keeping up the fast runners in our group, I’m still focused on
the very first principle in Chi Running:


So that’s my novel for week.

Run with Joy,
Live from your core,


Running Cast 1 – Palos Verdes Run

Watch the video

My first running video cast.
You need to use itunes or quicktime player to view it.
I’m having having problems with Microsoft. Imagine that.
Enjoy and Namaste.


California Race Schedule

I just created a new page with a link to sites that have races scheduled in California.

So have you chosen one yet like we recommended?

Do it. Even if it is the 5K kiddie trot down the street. The point is to have something to train for.

I just signed up for the Big Sur Marathon a few days ago. Supposedly the most beautiful marathon in the United States and one I have wanted to run for a while. So if I can accomplish Catalina and Big Sur this spring, it will be a very very good season.

What are you training for?


Super Bowl Kick-off Trail Run

Just a little creek crossing

L-R back row – Wayne, Janice, Paul, Hugo, Kelly front row – Gary and Laura photo by Steve

Another Sunday, another Group Trail Run. Ok, maybe it sounds like we are going to do these every weekend, sorry we aren’t. We do promise at least one group run a month and look for two.

Super Bowl Sunday was a beautiful day in Pasadena. Eight people showed up for this run. We started together and took the picture above about a half mile in. Then five of us picked up the pace. Gary and Hugo kept is strong while Wayne, Paul and I stayed on their heels. Thankfully, I’m faster going uphill. Wayne turned back early, he had to be back by 10 and Paul fell back just a bit. We ran to the new bridge and took the picture below. A couple of minutes after we took the picture Paul showed up. I figure it was a little over 4 miles in when we flipped it. Then the downhill frenzy started.

Hugo has a 3:11:00 marathon in his record books and it wasn’t long before Gary and Hugo were out of my site. Those guys we really pushing each other. I’m training for the Wild Flower half ironman so I kept it at my race pace, running solo at this point. Hugo and Gary were taking a break and getting a drink at the baseball field when I finally caught them. They ran the last mile in with me. My run with a couple picture breaks was around 1:40:00. Another great day. Remember, if you don’t play, you can’t win. Join us next time.

My plan for our next run is Sunday, Feb. 26, the “Break Through the Wall” run. When we break through the “wall” on the LA Marathon course. It is always good to know the last six miles of your next marathon course and for anyone running LA this March, here’s your chance. We will start in downtown LA, take the subway and get as close to mile 19 or 20 as possible, then run back to Downtown.

Next weekend I’ll be in Palm Springs riding in a Century Ride which is like a marathon for cyclists. I’ll write a report about it.

Train Focused,

Steve Mackel

Gary, Hugo & Steve at New Bridge

Laura, going up!

Super Bowl Sunday Trail Run – Pasadena

Steve and Sky enjoying the Pasadena trail CLICK HERE