Monday, 3 August 2015

On 13:34 by Victoria Stanham in , , , ,    4 comments
This post was originally published in my new running and Alexander Technique blogsite, at

Every time I took up running in the past it lasted me for no more than a month. My main reason for taking up this particular form of torture was fairly straightforward: I wanted to lose weight and I’d read that running burned far more calories than walking.

So, for a few weeks, I would drag myself onto the Rambla a couple of times a week for a 30 minute torture session of walk-run-walk. Although I enjoyed the post-workout feeling of accomplishment, I hated every minute of going through the actual ordeal of putting one foot in front of the other as I gasped for breath and ached all over. This needless suffering was the main reason I would start skipping sessions on any semi-justifiable excuse.

The more I skipped, the harder it was to break the inertia the next time. Eventually some silly injury or nagging pain would keep me off the road for a couple of weeks straight and that was the end of my running spree. The mere thought of having to build up my endurance once again until 20 continuous minutes of jogging didn’t feel like a death march was a sure motivation killer.

I decided running was not for me. When the running craze hit Uruguay I congratulated myself for not being one of those self-torturing crazies on the Rambla, with the pained expressions, heavy footfalls and heaving breaths.

I had also decided I didn’t need running. Having found Pilates (which made me fall head over heels in love with movement for the first time) and the Alexander Technique (which got me hooked into understanding and thus moving how nature intended) I considered my movement needs more than adequately met. And so it was for several years.

But the funny thing is that Pilates and Alexander Technique made me so comfortable in my own body they inched me ever closer to enjoying all the movement possibilities available to a human being… and running is just the natural evolution of walking.

So when my sister, who used to be a running-hater too, started training for and completed her first 5k race, I decided to give running another chance. To my pleasant and ecstatic surprise I didn’t hate it AT ALL, I actually LOVED it. My training in Pilates and Alexander Technique had made me an extremely efficient exerciser; I had more endurance than seemed possible for someone who’d shunned cardio for years. What’s even better, I discovered that even if I skipped a couple of weeks of running, I could jump right back on track without feeling I had lost much training.

Seeing that running comes so easily and joyfully for me now, my sister has asked me what the trick is. It’s not so much a trick but a set of organizing principles that allow body and mind to be better coordinated. This results in the ability to maintain good form and a deep breathing pattern even at times of great physical exertion. The best part is we’ve discovered these principles can be taught and learned fairly easily, so she’s improved her running too!

I’m writing this blog to document my approach to running, in the hopes that it can help you too. My sister will be the one keeping me real with what works and what doesn’t.  I’ll be sharing all my tips and secrets which meet her one basic criteria for a run: take no more than 30 minutes.

Please, if you are at all interested in enjoying running, leave a comment, ask a question, suggest a topic for investigation. If you tell me what’s keeping you from enjoying your runs, or what’s keeping you from running altogether, I’ll do my best to figure out a way to get you a step closer to lacing on your running shoes.

Happy Running!



  1. I would like to give it a try too...

  2. I like your approach to running. I've struggled with running on and off since I was a teenager and first ran in the school cross-country running team. It's always seemed like self torture to me. When I was doing my AT training my head of training said I was better off going swimming instead. But I've persisted on and off, with occasional periods of non-running. I took a workshop in London with Malcolm Balk and studied Chi Running as well. These have helped in avoiding injury, but I still feel that running is a "should" rather than a "want to" and I'd like to be able to just be able to run without having to have a constant eye on technique, where my feet are landing and how my breathing is. So, to cut a long story short, your approach sounds very intuitive and refreshing.

    1. Hi Robin! Thanks for commenting. I've read about Chi Running and have Malcolm Balk's book too. The way I run has several things in common with their approaches when you look at the resulting form, but I put less emphasis on specifics of form, and more emphasis on organizing thoughts and images. I take A LOT of inspiration from the animal kingdom too (especially big cats and horses). If you're willing to try out some of my stuff I'd love to have your input on what works and what doesn't. My approach will always be a work-in-progress. Most of the running specific stuff I'll be publishing on the running blog at so keep an eye on that one if you're interested. Cheers!