“Make the impossible possible, the possible easy, the easy elegant.” -Moshé Pinchas Feldenkrais
This past Saturday Elevated Retreats Co. hosted their first “Feldenkrais-running retreat” in the scenic mountain town of Salida, Colorado. Feldenkrais is a form of exercise therapy that uses awareness of body movements to improve physical and mental function. This one day event treated participants to a full menu of activities including group runs, awareness through movement practice, running video analysis, a Feldenkrais seminar, catered lunch and social events.
[PRO TIP:] For readers interested in learning more about Feldenkrais and how it can be incorporated into a trail runner’s training arsenal, read our article “Why Trail Runners Should Practice Feldenkrais.”
The retreat was hosted by Harald Kasper, licensed Feldenkrais practitioner and physical therapist, Devon Kasper, professional actor who became interested in Feldenkrais to improve her craft, Renee Duricy, licensed clinical social worker and therapist, and Anthony Duricy, mindfulness coach. All four hosts have backgrounds in trail running and hoped to give participants of this retreat an appreciation for how the two disciplines benefit and balance each other.
Following the retreat on Saturday, I interviewed Anthony Duricy about how this retreat came to be and his plans for future Feldenkrais-trail running retreats.
[TAYTE POLLMANN] What do you hope participants gained from their experience at the retreat today?
[ANTHONY DURICY] I hope runners realize that there’s a lot more options than just running by classic measurements such as heart rate, RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion), etc. You can run with awareness and have that as your guide, as opposed to relying on outside measurements.
[TAYTE] How did you settle on the format of a one-day retreat?
[ANTHONY] It made sense as the best way to get people more familiar with what Feldenkrais is. We plan to start with a one day retreat and work up to two, three or maybe even four day retreats. Getting people familiar with Feldenkrais through one day retreats will hopefully generate interest in multi day retreats.
[TAYTE] Why did you choose to combine Feldenkrais and trail running in one camp and what makes these disciplines work well together?
[ANTHONY] Feldenkrais is designed more as a practice on the ground, lying down, and thinking about what’s going on in your body and how your body moves. This practice is a great way to slow down and gain a deeper understanding of your body’s movements in everyday life. Both Harald and myself are passionate trail runners and we wanted to understand better how our body’s move when trail running.
[TAYTE] Could you give us an example of how Feldenkrais can change your experience of uphill and downhill running on trails?
[ANTHONY] Practicing Feldenkrais can gain a better sense of awareness on uphills. You begin to pay attention to your body position in relation to the steepness of the grade. As the grade changes, you become aware of how your head and shoulders stack over your hips, and how your hips stack over your ankles. This is a very different way of thinking as opposed to taking common uphill coaching advice such as to run with a higher cadence, lean into the hill, etc. Instead of relying on an outside source, you focus on an inside source that is tapped into through running with awareness.
On the downhill, it’s the same idea. You gain an awareness of how you’re braking, your flow, where your balance point is with your shoulders, hips and knees and how this changes with the grade. You will notice how your balance point affects your ability to brake and speed up. You will become aware of how your form changes when you’re nervous on a scary downhill versus when you can stay relaxed.
[TAYTE] You are hosting a multi day Feldenkrais-running retreat Spring 2022. What will be the same/different?
[ANTHONY] The basic idea will be the same. We’ll have catered meals, awareness through movement practice, group trail runs, and a similar format for each day. We will shift things based on the feedback we get from this retreat. There will definitely be more time to experience downtown Salida, its restaurants, wineries, bars, and shops.