December 2016 Instructor of the Month: Master Instructor Michal Artzi, Israel
This month, we are highlighting one of our amazing Master Instructors: Michal Artzi from Tel Aviv, Israel. She has made it her life's mission to bring effortless, graceful running to all! Visit Michal's website here!
Tell us a little about you. Where you live, what your background is.
My name is Michal Artzi, I was born, raised and live in Tel Aviv Israel. Sport was always and still is a big part of my life: Swimming as a child, riding horses as a teenager (three times Israeli champion in Horse Jumping) and practicing Yoga later on. My athletic passions today are running and swimming.
I studied to be a Pastry Chef and worked in some of the most famous restaurants in Tel Aviv. The job was highly enjoyable however surprisingly, physically challenging. As a chef you need to stand on your feet all day. As time went by, I developed Plantar Fasciitis, which caused me to stop running and eventually had me quit my job. This was probably one of the best gifts of my life as this was what started the process for me to find Chi Running.
How did you start running?
After my third (and last) child was born, I added walking to my Yoga practice. My husband was a runner however it never occurred to me to join him. I did not share his passion and could never understand what was so exciting about running... But he kept coming back from his runs looking SO happy. After a while I started getting a little jealous and decided to try it myself. To my big surprise, I liked it a lot, and started to add running into my life. After few months I started feeling pain in my feet. A few months later I could not walk, let alone run… My job and the runs caused Plantar Fasciitis, my knee was in pain and I had to stop running.
When and how did Chi Running come into your life? (The short story.)
… And then I found Chi Running! My brother-in-law, heard my frustration of not being able to run and suggested that on my next trip to LA (where my sister lives), I will meet his instructor. I met Kathy Griest and the rest is history.
In what ways has Chi changed your perception of and success in running?
Right after the workshop with Kathy I went for my first run, and for the first time in a very long time, I did not feel the pulse aching in my heels! I was thrilled! In a very gradual way, I implemented the principles of Chi into my runs and into my life. I learned so much about my body; about the way I can use it. Gradually I added more distance to my runs. It took me 4 years to do my first marathon.
Every distance I achieved, I thought I would never run more than that. I thought I’ll never run more that 10 k… more that 15… more that half a marathon. Than I thought I will never run more than one Marathon. But I did not believe myself anymore… As of now I ran six marathons and three ultras... And the future is wide open!
What do you think is the biggest misconception of Chi Running?
That it is magic, or that it can’t really make that much of a difference. People ask me to teach them this magic called Chi Running. I tell them it is a magic you work hard to achieve...
What motivates you to run?
What inspires me is to look for, and find the limits of my body. Than to realize them – and go beyond. I never thought I would be able to run such long distances.
It also moves me to explore the method, find the right way to reach my goals and share that knowledge with my clients.
What does your average week look like, run-wise?
I run nearly every day. Some runs are with my clients. Some are for my own running plans. When training for a race, I run up to an 80-90k a week (and more in the peak of my training). Off-season I run some 60k a week. When I started running I liked getting to that place AFTER a run. Today I enjoy the whole journey; I love every aspect of it, not just the result.
What other forms of exercise do you practice to complement Chi Running?
Chi swimming of course… Some yoga. And stretches after EVERY run.
What led you to become an instructor?
The minute I finished the workshop with Kathy, I knew I would work on bringing Chi Running to Israel. When I had MY running issues and was looking for a solution, I realized that no one in my country could teach me how to run correctly. And this was the exact thing I needed. Finally I found the right way to run and I wanted to give the answer I found in LA to the runners in Israel.
I decided to learn more about the human body movement and complimented my Chi training with two years at the Israeli Sports Academy, in order to have more teaching tools.
What do you most enjoy about instructing?
The fact that I can help other people is what thrills me the most. The mails and phone calls I receive after a seminar, having my clients tell me that for the first time, after a long time, they could run 5 minutes, 6k, or a full race. It makes my day! The fact that I learn so much from my clients. I learn so much from teaching, and instructing improves MY runs.
Advice for people new to Chi Running?
Be patient. Learn to listen to your body. Work hard to relax those arms and legs. Enjoy the trails.
Favorite race you’ve run and why:
The Gospel Trail, in the path of Jesus, between Nazareth and the Galilee Sea, April 2016. It was my longest run (55 k). It was an unplanned run… While training for a race of 45 k in Oslo, my husband and I decided to run this one as a training race. It was in the Israeli spring, great weather, great people, most beautiful trails, and the first time I surprised myself with a race and with such a long distance.
Most memorable race:
Oslo EcoTrail 2016, Paris Eco Trail 2014. Pushing my limits...
Ideal weather for running:
Israeli fall heading to winter 15-18 Celsius, partly cloudy.
Focus that currently dominates your running:
The focus I am currently working on is relaxing my shoulders.
When assisting Danny in New York on September, Danny noted to me that my arm swing is too short. That my arms go backwards, but are not relaxed enough to go all the way to the front.
In the critique, Danny said that by relaxing my arms more, my strides will probably be opened back more. And it just probably did... Since I started working on this focus, and managed to apply it in my runs, I am running faster!! some 10-15 sec. per km faster.. Just finished my 20 K run this week-end in less than 6 min. per km. Without working harder. With not that much effort. With keeping my heart-rate down. I did not run this fast since 2012...
Small change makes big difference...
Favorite place to run:
Trails! Used to be a roadrunner, until I found the trails and paths runs.
Jerusalem Marathon. Was supposed to run it in March 2015, but had a ski accident on January 2015, in which I tore my LCL, which stopped my running for some 6 month. I owe this one for myself.
Run with or without phone/music:
Run with a metronome, or the waves by the sea, or the birds in the park.
If I didn’t run, I:
My first race was:
5 k in Tel Aviv Marathon in 2008
My current favorite shoe to run in is:
Sketchers Go Run 4 for road
Altra Superior 2.0 for trail
My most difficult run ever was:
The Eilat Desert Marathon 11/2014. Although I trained for the Desert Mountains, I did not train for the deep sand paths on those mountains… I did not take that into consideration while training for the race. It was my first trail race and the race in which I felt I was less trained for the terrain. It was such a tough race but such a great challenge!