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It's a runner's world - Martha Carr

I've taken up running outdoors again, and this quest to somehow return to the roads, has led me down more twists and turns. First, a lot of readers will remember I had to relearn how to walk last year after surgery for cancer.

Surprisingly, learning how to walk correctly has turned out to be the hardest part of the entire adventure.

Walking in a manner that is sustainable in an urban area without a car is not as simple as it seemed it ought to be to me. I was constantly over-compensating to one side or the other, probably partially out of impatience, and it caused harm.

Physical therapy at Northwestern Hospital here in Chicago corrected a lot of that, but I was still left slower, and after a day of walking, in some pain with a lurch to my step when I went up and down stairs.

I went back to my old gym classes, hoping that if I just built up the quads in my legs, perhaps that would do the trick. However, old school styles of working out were only making it more obvious what I could no longer do, and it left me with a sense that the world had changed forever.

Fortunately, I was right but just not in the way I had anticipated, at all.

Mo Wills, the co-owner at Infinity Multisport, www.infinityeffect.com, teaches people how to use their own body to walk and run more naturally.

There is a common belief about running, mostly among the weekend warriors that eventually we will all have to run slower and have more minor injuries that sideline us from time to time.

Some will even find they have to give up the sport because their knees just can't take it anymore or their hip is beginning to bother them. I thought that was me, after all I had never been that graceful a runner to begin with, and now with the compromised leg, I thought it was over.

However, injury or age or lack of exercise isn't a reason to stop running. It turns out that adults sometimes need a primer on how to get back to the way they walked and ran as kids. That's where Mo has been able to show me how to Chi run, or move my center of gravity from my heels to the center of my step and it has changed everything.

After just an hour of instruction, I was already moving faster and my posture was improving even when I was sitting down. But there was a point after a couple of lessons where my heart opened back up to the possibility that I could even become a better runner. Mo smiled and said, "You're processing that, aren't you?"

He has trained triathletes to become faster and with far fewer injuries as well as people coming back from serious injuries and they have all found out that some simple changes can change everything.

It's as if my will was what stubbornly got me over the hump the last time I was a runner and I endured till I got better. But this time, I'm working with the laws of gravity and physics and my body and everything is easier.

Running is currently experiencing a renaissance as aging bodies look for a sport that won't bust the budget and learn how to not let it bust the body either. However, to learn Chi running or walking Mo suggests consulting a DVD or e-mailing him for tips. The changes are subtle, but it takes a little direction.

Mo and Chicagoland Skydiving Center, www.skydivecsc.com, are helping me to achieve my goal this August of running a 5k, raising money for cancer research, and then we're all jumping out of a plane together. There'll be more on all of that later for everyone who wants to join in the fun, nationwide, so stay tuned.

Tweet me @MarthaRandolph about how exercise is fitting into your life. www.martharandolphcarr.com. E-mail Martha at Martha@caglecartoons.com. Martha's column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc., newspaper syndicate.