I love running. I think that’s obvious. But you know what else I love? Finding small adjustments to my form that make my running EASIER. Make me FASTER. Make me able to run FARTHER! And I found just that. Chi Running.
A month or more ago I was at a party and chatting with my friend Marla. We were talking about running as she has been recovering from a car accident and is getting back to it. She mentioned Chi Running, which I’ve heard of and even own the book. But the book is SO DRY and frankly, boring, that I never got very far into it. But Marla owns The Still Point Spa, and coincidentally had a Chi Workshop coming up. So I signed up figuring at least it would give me a chance to meet other local runners, and see Marla’s spa.
In the 3 or so weeks before the workshop, I skimmed the book. I put into practice a few minor adjustments from the book and VIOLA! My runs improved immediately. I couldn’t believe it, so I ran more. And I felt fantastic! So the workshop day came and I was very excited to learn more, and confirm what I’d been doing recently. The workshop was 4 hours long and taught by Robyn Humphrey, a local running superstar. And it was great.
So, while I am not at ALL an expert on Chi Running, and am still very new to it, I thought I’d sum up the three points that I learned that have really make a difference in my running. I encourage you to watch videos, sign up for a Chi Running workshop, or (see warning above) buy the book. If you try any of this, I’d LOVE to know how it changes/affects/helps your running.
1. Lean Forward. This is a no brainer once you do it. Leaning forward literally propels you forward, and by moving your center of gravity, suddenly your legs don’t have as much work to do! This keeps them fresher, longer and allows you to run farther.
2. Keep your pelvis aligned. In conjunction with #1, keep your pelvis in line with your shoulders, knees and ankles. Or in simpler terms, don’t break in the middle when you lean forward. If your lower body is straight and your upper body is tilted forward, you won’t get the benefits of Chi Running.
3. Think of the Road Runner. You know the cartoon? How the bird’s feet were always a blur BEHIND him (her?). Try to emulate that. Not in a dramatic way but intentionally try keeping your feet behind you. Bringing your knees up in front of you is inefficient and uses energy you don’t need to burn. Also, this almost automatically switches you to a mid foot strike. Another key to Chi Running.
Chi Running is all about efficiency. Using gravity to your advantage, conserving energy, limiting unnecessary movement. It is really all common sense stuff once you put it in practice. But a warning – changing your form in this way may take time. It may make your calves hurt. It probably will feel strange at first, and it will take concentration. But I believe it will yield positive results.
Anybody else tried Chi Running? What are your experiences?