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Jan 15, 2016 4:57 EDT

The Balanced Runner: How Running Is Meant to Feel

iCrowdNewswire - Jan 15, 2016

Running Is Not Supposed To Be Bad For You.

Every year 50-80% of runners are injured. That’s a well-known statistic, one you’ve probably heard before. 

Behind those numbers, what does the day-to-day reality actually look like?

  • A person whose New Year’s resolution was to start running. On January 1 their first run feels awful but they feel proud they did it, and believe it will feel better as they get fitter. On February 1 it still feels awful. On March 1 they’re not running any more.

  • A runner who wants to try a marathon but can’t ever seem to run more than 7 miles without knee pain.

  • A runner training for a marathon, hoping to set a new personal best, only to break down after an 18-miler and never make it to the starting line.

  • A runner who loves training with a club – having goals, structure, feedback, and the encouragement of teammates — but frequently struggles with injury, missing workouts, races… and friends.

  • A lifelong runner who holds their body together with stretching, foam rolling, Pilates, sports massage, and visits to the physio, allowing them to train hard, race hard and occasionally sets PRs. But on the way to work in the morning they can’t break into a run to catch a bus because it hurts too much.

The flip side of those stories is the smaller percentage of runners who have a very different experience:

  • Looking forward to every run because of how great it feels.

  • Easily increasing the length of runs without pain or injury

  • Arriving healthy at the starting line of a goal race and setting a PB with a smile

  • Training steadily with a club and being there to help teammates run better as well.

  • Recovering the joy, freedom, and spontaneity of running as a child, breaking easily into a run to catch a bus or race a grandchild.

Runners in the first group, working hard to take care of their bodies and cultivate their health and wellbeing, often think those in the second group are just lucky – born healthier or more biomechanically gifted than everyone else.

But no one was born knowing how to run. Every one of us learned how.

And while there are many factors involved in staying healthy and running well, learning is the only one that can make you feel fast, free, and a little like you’re flying. Running, that is, like you were born to.


The Discovery

I’m not a coach or sports scientist. My background is in professional dance, so when I struggled to run, I did what dancers do: I looked for problems with my technique and started working on them.  

That was in 2001, long before the book “Born to Run” sparked the barefoot/minimalist running movement and raised interest in working on running form (or technique). So I didn’t have much to go on. But I did have a powerful tool to help me: the Feldenkrais Method of Movement Education.

The Feldenkrais Method was developed by Moshe Feldenkrais, D.Sc., beginning in the 1950s to help people learn how to move and function better. Not just a sports-training method, it’s known for helping people with serious challenges, such as cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, and strokes, and even can be used to help animals. It allows people to dramatically improve how they move safely and without stress.

As I was studying to become a Feldenkrais practitioner, I was able to use the method to make dramatic changes in how I ran until it felt fantastic. In fact it felt better than dancing and I decided to make the switch.

I also realized that the things I’d discovered were critical to running the way nature intended were things nobody else was talking about, let alone teaching effectively. That’s when The Balanced Runner was born.

Since then, along with two Feldenkrais practitioners I’ve trained, I have helped hundreds of runners one-to-one and in workshops, and countless others via my YouTube channel, online courses, and my blog

But it isn’t even a drop in the bucket. And running technique education, though much more popular now than in 2001, hasn’t improved nearly enough. This means huge numbers of runners are getting hurt and frustrated unnecessarily every year – some even to the point of giving up their efforts to be physically active, despite all we know about the tragic effects of a sedentary lifestyle.

Even more significantly, it means countless runners every year trying and failing to connect to this most basic human action, this powerful, natural means of cultivating our best selves in body and mind and deepening our relationship with the beautiful world we live in.

I want to help more runners. I believe it’s time for the Feldenkrais Method to become part of the mainstream, so that every runner who needs help will hear about it and be able to use it.

I can do that by massively expanding my online offerings and training running-related professionals to use what I’ve discovered. But to do that I need administrative and IT staff.  The goal of this campaign is to raise the funds to hire them.

The Balanced Runner is Ready to Help Runners Worldwide

I’ve spent nearly 15 years total – nearly 13 professionally – discovering the key movements involved in running and the teaching strategies that help runners learn them quickly and safely. Eight of those years went into developing, testing, revising, and testing again an online running camp that can transform most runners in 4 to 6 weeks – about as long as an average course of physiotherapy or couch-to-5k program, for the price of a couple of pairs of trainers (and much less than a pair of custom orthotics!).


What We Can Accomplish Together

My aim is nothing short of transforming the way the world understands and experiences running so we can reclaim this human birthright.

When you back this campaign, not only will I thank you with a perk that begins your transformation, you’ll also be helping The Balanced Runner grow. Reaching our funding goal means I’ll be able to hire the administrative and IT help necessary to  offer The Balanced Runner Online Running Technique Camp to 10 times as many runners as in 2015. 

If we pass our goal there is so much more we can accomplish. Additional money raised will go towards:

1. An experienced travel/retreat coordinator so we can offer running workshop retreats in the Scottish Highlands.

2. The administrative help and legal/professional services needed to create certification programs for professionals so more coaches, physiotherapists, fitness professionals, and Feldenkrais practitioners will know how to help runners in a truly effective way.

3. Developing a program to help sedentary kids get outside and love running.

4. Initiating scientific research into the effects of the Feldenkrais Method on running economy and recovery from running injury.


Contact Information:

Jae Gruenke

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