Instructor of the Month: Laura Houston, Washington
Laura has been teaching Chi Running and Chi Walking since 2006. She first came across it in 2005 while training for Vancouver International marathon, and feels it helped her qualify for the Boston marathon. Chi Running had such a profound impact on her running, increasing her endurance and reducing her recovery time, that she wanted to share it with others. She was trained by Master Instructor Chris Griffin, and has traveled around the country on numerous occasions, assisting Danny Dreyer, or helping Master Instructor Mary Lindahl train new instructors. She has enjoyed helping others experience pain free running and walking, and loves the ‘aha’ moments her clients have when it clicks in their body. Laura’s job to show you ‘how’; your job to ‘feel it’ and learn the language of your body. This is what Laura loves doing most - helping you make that connection to bring the joy and pleasure back into your running and walking!
Check out the photos of Laura at the beginning of her running career and recently assisting Danny Dreyer at his Phoenix, AZ workshop this year!
Connect with Laura here.
The Official "Get-to-Know" Your Instructor of the Month Questionnaire
Tell us a little about you. Where you live, what your background is. What (if applicable) you do in addition to being a Certiﬁed Instructor.
I live in Seattle WA, and I’ve been running (o! and on) since the 70s. I also practice Chen style tai chi, and I work as a research scientist at the University of Washington.
How did you start running?
I got caught up in the ﬁrst ‘running boom’ in the 70s in college. I still have Jim Fixx’s classic book, The Complete Book of Running.
When and how did ChiRunning come into your life? (The short story.)
In 2005, getting ready for Vancouver marathon, I saw a link on Helenita Jacobs’ website (TI swimming coach). I borrowed the book, started applying one focus (engage the core) and it completely changed my running for the better.
In what ways has Chi changed your perception of and success in running?
By learning to run more effciently, my endurance went up as my effort decreased. My runs (especially the long ones) turned into meditation sessions. Though my times improved, the overall reward was feeling better and learning to be in the moment, letting the run unfold as it should. It’s also enabled me to jump into races and enjoy them and do well.
What do you think is the biggest misconception of ChiRunning?
It’s all about the lean and foot strike. You have to create the conditions for those to happen, and it starts with getting aligned, both in posture and direction.
What motivates you to run?
It gives me a chance to meditate, observe, and listen to my body (and meet it where it’s at).
What achievements are you most proud of?
(Hard one for me to answer!) Playing an instrumental part in improving the quality of someone else’s life. Getting a tai chi form down after working over a year learning it (& letting the real work begin). Training for and running an ultramarathon.
What led you to become an instructor?
After I took a two day workshop in 2005 with Danny, friends and I would have a refresher run once a month. I was so into it, they thought Seattle needed an instructor and that I would be a good candidate.
Why do you enjoy being an instructor, and how has it affected your life?
I love seeing the positive changes in people’s lives when they get it in their body. They’re really very simple changes, but they can have a very profound effect. That in turn has an effect on my life.
What does your average week look like, run-wise?
I run about three times a week (or more, when teaching). Two week day runs 30-60 minutes long, and at least an hour on the weekend. I also practice a lot of Chi Walking throughout the week (to/from work, and all around).
What other forms of exercise do you practice to compliment ChiRunning?
Walking, tai chi, bicycling.
Advice for people new to Chi Running?
Start easy - gradual progress!! Try not to take on too many focuses at once, but rather start with one, and gradually incorporate more. Let change evolve.
Short answer! Okay, GO.
Favorite race you’ve run and why: Boston Marathon - so much history and fun!
Most memorable race: Vancouver marathon; feet didn’t hurt at the end thanks to incorporating Chi Running
Ideal weather for running: Upper 50s, light cloud cover
Focus that currently dominates your running: level pelvis, neutral chin, stay tall (tall C shape)
Favorite place to run: Cougar Mountain (I don’t get there enough)
Celebratory food after a race: Beer - a good meaty stout is best
Run with or without phone/music: no phone/music (except for CR app)
Repeat on your playlist: Focus(es) selected on CR app
Fill in the blank.
If I didn’t run I would swim, hike and play tai chi more
I can’t run without a warm up
My ﬁrst race was Bayou City Fun Run 10K, 1984 and I was hooked on racing and running.
My current favorite shoe to run in is (no favorite; I rotate out several pairs)
My most diffcult run ever was Chuckanut 50k - the last 6 miles. Long straight road and (relatively) ﬂat
I’ve ran (TMTC) marathons/races. *The scientific term, Too Many To Count
The longest distance I’ve ran 55K. Where? Capitol Peak Ultra, Olympia WA