ChiRunning® Instructors Get Together in Asheville

A Group Photo From the First ChiRunning® Instructor Weekend

Asheville NC, – Home to Danny Dreyer, the founder of ChiRunning® and fantastic trail running, hosted the first ChiRunning® Instructors Weekend. It was fantastic to meet the other ChiRunning® Instructors. They had diverse backgrounds and there were some quite gifted athletes.

The group trail run was magical for a So Cal kid, like me. It was so soft running on the leaves and soft dirt. It is much greener than the mountains in my backyard. It also had more varied terrain. It seems like we get longer up hills and down hills out here. I heard it said, “A change will do you good.” I think the visit to Asheville was good and it was great to bond with the entire ChiRunning® family

One thing I love about ChiRunning® is that I am always learning and getting better. I can never let my guard down. I have to listen, feel and respond to what body is telling me in that moment.

Every time I get to hear Danny talk, I pick up a new subtle concept that allows me to further dive into my running. That weekend was no exception. One thing that Danny reminded me of, was the connection between alignment and relaxation. On the race course and on my training runs I focus on two feelings my coach, Steve Ilg, taught me: The ability to “Let Go” and “Empty.” These have been words and feelings that have helped me find some of that relaxation in alignment.

Sometimes you have to let the structure support itself. You can’t be responsible or maybe better said, strong enough to hold all the pieces together all the time. Sound familiar, especially to us control freaks.

With all that practice, I am looking forward to this Labor Day’s races. Gary, myself, some Beach Runners and members will be at Mt Baldy’s Run to the Top, while another group will be at the Disneyland half. Look for race reports soon.

Happy Labor Day and Race Focused, Steve Mackel Certified ChiRunning® Instructor

Touching the Queen

Steve and Gary Touch the Queen Mary on the Beach Runners Long Run

What an endurance weekend, big time base training (Long Slow Distance). It started with a 4-hour run with the Beach Runners on Saturday morning.

What a day! We could have not asked for better weather, still 4 hours of running/walking is a long time. With 1.5 miles to go, Kimmie and I stopped at the Naples fountain and dunked our heads. As soon as we started running again we felt intermittent raindrops. The smell in the air changed and renewed energy charged from every space around us. We finished this wondrous day on the grass as Gary led us through some great yoga.

That’s how the day ended yet my 19-mile effort and weekend was full of great times. I had not gone long since June and the Holcomb Valley 33-miler. I decided to take it slow and (in)joy the day. I ran with many different Beach Runners and one of the highlights of my day was running with Gary (we rarely run together) from the lighthouse to the Queen Mary. It was my first time this year going there and people refer to it as “Touching the Queen.” Upon our arrival we climbed the stairs and walked over the bridge to actually touch the Queen Mary. Next time you get a chance, please take a look at that boat. It is a monster, just the way the steel is riveted in place and the weight of each plate makes you think, “How does this thing float?”

Gary is too fast for me now and after a while took off, heck I wasn’t in a hurry anyways. I met up with lots of different Beach Runners over that last 6-mile stretch but Kimmie and I seemed to be in the same groove. I had stopped for a candy bar and Gatorade, so I was fairly topped off with calories for the last hour of running.

Beach Runners That Have Become Friends Run Along the Long Beach Bike Path

This is what I truly love about training for long endurance events, the friends you make and stories you tell. In the end, it turned out Kimmie and I had a lot in common but had never said much more than hello over the past 3 months. The time goes faster and we both accomplished our desired training runs together. The morale of the story is run with anyone and it is usually quite amazing.

But it doesn’t stop there. While the Beach Runners marathoners were running for 4.5 hours or 23 miles, I had booked a ride with two other members for Sunday. Nichole, Sabine and I left Huntington Beach at 7:30 AM for a ride down the coast. After 23 miles Sabine needed to head back, so before we said good-bye we stopped at a Starbucks for some food and coffee. We were hanging outside when a lightning started off shore, then loud crashes of thunder. Time to go, and who would get to play in this storm.

It looked like it was coming from the north yet it was coming from the south. Nichole and I saw what looked like the beginning of a funnel cloud. Many locals were outside or on the decks watching the lightning storm and ominous clouds as we pedaled south. Next thing we knew the rain was coming down. The campers in San Onofre were packing up and leaving in droves. We were at a point of no return and on our way, at the least, to Oceanside.

After miles of a fantastic summer rain storm, the sun peaked out. Nichole suggested we go all the way down to Solana Beach and catch the train from there. We air-dried as we continued our ride down the coast. Everything was beautiful. The rain has past, people were out and our next stop was Pizza Port.

Today ended with a train ride back to Anaheim then riding 17 grueling miles against the wind to Huntington Beach. So I’ll end this article with 106 miles under my belt this weekend. I feel blessed with so many wonderful people in my life and thankful for my health and the ability to use it. Now I’ll go open a bottle of red and toast God for all gifts that have been bestowed on me. Namaste

Train Thankfully and Focused, Steve Mackel – Certified Hypnotherapist

More Chi Please

Swimming in a North Carolina River, Steve, Bryan and Gary renew their chi

Dateline – Friday, August 18, 2007, Asheville, NC – Gary and I met up with Baltimore ChiRunning® Instructor Bryan Hantman for the first ever ChiRunning® Instructor meeting. Danny Dreyer, ChiRunning® Founder is reviewing our form and giving us all sorts of new secrets and tips that help improve your ChiRunning® practice. If you are new to ChiRunning® our workshops will be better than ever and perfect for all levels, from beginner to advanced.

Quick things that I have to work on is my head position and I have a little too much shoulder rotation. Gary is going to be working on improving his hip rotation. Sunday is a trail running overview. We’ll let you know how that goes tomorrow.

Don’t miss out on this new information and sign up for our next all day ChiRunning® Yoga Trail Running Retreat, Sunday, September 9, in Palos Verdes to register CLICK HERE.

More later and the swimming holes are great. We don’t get too many in So Cal.

Train Focused, Steve Mackel – Certified ChiRunning® Instructor

Slow Dancing


Steve and I will be studying under Danny Dreyer of ChiRunning this weekend in North Carolina.

Beach Runners however will be doing a 4 yes 4 hour run in this August heat. There’s been many tips given to you already this year about running in the heat. But most importantly, you’ll need to run slow.

If you haven’t listened to Monday’s RunCall with Tim VanOrden it is well worth listening to as he explains the danger of running too fast on a training run like Saturday.

This is from someone who is training for the Olympic team and runs five minute miles.

Also, the last few weeks for me have been about loss. Losing some people, animals, even my cell phone…its like old layers are being shed off of my soul. Its not easy. Losing people or animals always brings tears to my eyes.

But loss always makes me think about life. And about slowing down…

This poem is from a terminally ill six year old girl courtesy of Tim Ferriss’s new book…

Slow Dance

Have you ever watched kids
On a merry-go-round?

Or listened to the rain
Slapping on the ground?

Every followed a butterfly’s erratic flight?
Or gazed at the sun into the fading night?

You better slow down.
Don’t dance so fast.

Time is short.
The music won’t last.

Do you run through each day
On the fly?

When do you ask: How are you?
Do you hear the reply?

When the day is done,
do you lie in your bed

With the next hundred chores
Running through your head?

You’d better slow down.
Don’t dance so fast.

Time is short.
The music won’t last.

Ever told your child,
We’d do it tomorrow?

And in your haste,
Not see his sorrow?

Ever lost touch,
Let a good friendship die

Cause you never had time
To call and say, “Hi”?

You’d better slow down.
Don’t dance so fast.

Time is short.
The music won’t last.

When you run so fast to get somewhere
You miss half the fun of getting there.

When you worry and hurry through your day,
It is like an unopened gift thrown away.

Life is not a race.
Do take it slower.

Hear the music
Before the song is over.

Jake’s Thursday Night Track Workout

A Beach Runner Post Track Workout Meal

Tonight we did a track workout Steve style, hard and short. With that said, we were there almost two hours. There will be a RunCast about this, I just need to take more footage next week.

It started out with Body Loosners, Tai Chi exercises and other movement-based warm up. Then we ran an easy mile to warm up followed by some traditional tack workout warm up exercises.

We spread out on the track. The stopwatch started and we were off. These are 1 – 3 minute all out efforts depending on your speed. My lap speed was hanging around 1:25, not bad for my first track workout since my back injury.

Here’s what I saw. A lot of form breakdowns. I could spend days correcting arms and hands to get people swinging their arms right. Remember that your arms can drive your legs to increase your speed or slow you down if they don’t swing free and relaxed. Mark was able to take 6 seconds off a lap just by focusing on his arm swing.

Form gets lost at two points, when a person runs slow and when they run fast. These are the two points when it is the most difficult to feel, and have your body react properly. It doesn’t come naturally for most of us.

How sensitive can you become? Can you feel yourself falling when you go really slow. You have to understand (feel) your balance and gravity. It is hard to do. When you go fast, how can you lean enough? How can your hips rotate to give you the maximum stride length out the back? What is your cadence and can you run with shorter, quicker strides? There are lots of things to Think and Feel, especially when you are going fast.

We ended with what I thought was a moderate yoga practice. We worked a lot of upper body strength and lower body flexibility. It was a beautiful evening. Then some of us went out to eat. I guess we do, “Run to Eat” as Larry says.

Join Gary and I next Thursday at the CSULB track at 6PM. We will be making a new RunCast and you can be in it, if you show up.

Train Focused, Steve Mackel, Head Coach Beach Runners, MaraYoga Marathon and Half Maraton Training System.

Cellular Health Article by Member Shelli Stein

Shelli running the Honolulu Marathon

Taken from the August newsletter:

Hello friends, and welcome to this month’s JoyInMovement newsletter,

I thought this month we’d have a cellular conversation. Now for some cellular time together. The health of your body depends on the health of your cells. We have over 75 trillion cells in our body. Cells process the nourishment we need and get rid of our waste, keeping us energized and alive. Cells have different functions and need oxygen in order to perform them. They also use oxygen to convert glucose into ATP (adenosine triphosphate), our body’s fuel. If we want to maximize our overall health we need to ensure that we receive the optimum ingredients our cells require.

Much research has been done to decipher what cells need to live. Correlations have been found, for instance, between the level of oxygen in a person’s bloodstream and their level of health. A lack of oxygen will destroy cells, and if cells are given their basic needs and not poisoned by their own environment, they live on and on.

Dr. Stanley Robbins of Harvard Medical School suggests that there are 6 basic causes of cellular atrophy:

1. Decreased work load
2. Enervation
3. Diminished blood supply
4. Inadequate nutrition
5. Loss of endocrine stimulation
6. Aging

In leading a life full of health and vitality we must remember certain guiding principles:

* the key to a healthy body is healthy CELLS.
* the most important element of cellular health is OXYGEN.
* anything that disturbs the biochemical or electrical functioning of the cells or deprives them of oxygen is potentially disease producing.
* the build-up of toxins in our system is a result of unhealthy conditions. Think about the air we breathe, water we drink, foods we eat and the movement choices we make.

As I mentioned at the start of this letter, the key to health is energy and all our energy starts with our cells.  Cells only have energy when they have enough OXYGEN, NUTRIENTS and ways to eliminate waste.  Optimal oxygenation of your cells comes about through proper nutrition, fluid intake, exercise and stress management.

I don’t want to get overly technical or go deeper into each area of optimal oxygenation that I mentioned.  I am, however, in a “back to basics” mode though, and when we who find “joy-in-movement” think about achieving our optimum balance between health and fitness, we must start with the basic building blocks—our cells! If your health is in a less than optimal state and you feel one or more of your systems be it nervous, muscular, skeletal, circulatory, digestive, lymphatic, hormonal or other isn’t up to snuff, then I’m suggesting you need to look at your cellular health.

Now for this month’s energy drain.  How about our unfinished business? Anyone out there with decisions that need to be made or projects you have postponed that need doing?  Don’t know about you, but when I tend to my unfinished business I feel so much better and energy for other things comes flooding back in.  I think a big part of the dilemma is that we think we need to make perfect decisions.  When I trust myself and decide to either do it or just let it go altogether–the do it or dump it theory–it seems to get done just fine!

A friend sent me my horoscope today—-it read, “You’ve conquered some demons lately. Celebrate with dance and song, flowing scarves and hot cider.” What can I say? I never miss an opportunity to dance, sing, let my scarves flow and drink hot cider, so I am signing off to do all four, though maybe not all at once. Wishing you all a fun, fanciful month.

Create some joy and move in ways that serve those cells of yours! 

yours in cellular health,

Shelli Stein, RYT, CPT
Movement Educator

Larry’s San Francisco 2nd Half Marathon Experience!

A picture that we can all relate too from the SF 2nd Half by Larry

Thinking it might be an opportunity for me to meet-up with my nephew and his girlfriend (she’s currently working on her master’s in the Bay Area while he’s preparing to join her from Chicago), I, in mid-June, registered for the San Francisco 2nd Half Marathon.

To clarify, this wasn’t my second half marathon overall; nor was it the second time I ran the San Francisco Half Marathon. What the San Francisco Marathon folk have created are two half marathons within the full marathon so when it comes time to register, runners choose to run either the first half or second half of the full marathon course (well, more like weave in and out of it; at least that’s what we 2nd halfers did).

Continue reading…

Steve and Gary’s RunCall 10 on Recovery Strategies


Another information packed runcall from Steve Mackel and Gary Smith.

This week’s show will discuss recovery strategies from long runs.

But send us any other questions you might have abut marathon training.

EVENT: RunCall 10 w/ Steve and Gary
DATE & TIME: Monday, August 6th at 6:00pm Pacific
FORMAT: Simulcast! (Attend via Phone or Webcast — it’s your choice)

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions…

Gary and Steve trying to make a positive impact in people’s lives through fitness and helping each other along the way

Life is a whirly dervish. It comes at you at all directions and usually really fast. During those tough times, and it happens during every endurance athlete’s training schedule, something happens to throw us off track. Sometimes it lasts a long time.

Before every Beach Runner season we have kick-off parties. They are very informative and fun. I always try to get the point across that, “A lot of life happens over 5 – 6 months. Anything can happen and I’ve personally experienced it. Can you stay on track during those periods? Here’s the secret,

You have to make a Decision that blowing off your workout is not an option!

“Decision” being the key word. Life simply is, a series of decisions, that YOU make. The way you choose to react to any crummy situation is your decision. Can you take the higher road and find something positive to focus on? How about coming back even better. To illustrate this point, all you have to do is look at any disaster and the way certain people deal with it. The positive people get in there, help and rebuild, learning to start over or as my coach says, “Begin Again and Again.” It makes my struggles pale in comparison.

So as I work my way through life, at the end each moment, I reflect on my last series of decisions and decide if that is the direction that I still want to continue on. The beautiful thing is I can make a decision to begin again and go a different direction at any moment. I just have to be mindful.

So, get back to basics and formulate a doable plan. Be successful in the first few days, feel good about it and then keep making the same healthy decisions. If you fall off your path, that’s ok as long as you decide to get back on. Usually, the quicker the better. And don’t be afraid to ask for some help. That’s what we are all here for.

Train Focused, Steve Mackel, Certified Hypnotherapist