A couple of weekends ago, I had a breakthrough run.
I really, really needed this breakthrough because I had a long string of disappointing workouts leading up to it and I was beginning to doubt and question myself and I was ready to quit.
My breakthrough was a sub-30 minute 5k run during a triathlon!!! And this never happens!!! Never ever! Normally my legs are like toast by the time I get to the run, it’s hot, I’m in some amount of pain, and I have to just dig deep to finish. But this time, I ran hard the entire time. I was a little out of breath, but I wasn’t uncomfortable and my legs were just doing their thing. My time: 28:47!
This was HUGE FOR ME! HUGE!
One of the things I had done differently was that I started reading the book, Chi Running by Danny Dreyer.
My husband had bought the book and he kept telling me I should read it because he thought I would like what it has to say and I said it sounds like some sort of weird “Yoga running” and whatever. But then one day I picked it up and I started reading and I couldn’t put it down. I was completely and entirely wrong and he was completely and entirely right about what I would think about it (guess he knows me.)
This is a basic overview of ChiRunning from their website:
“ChiRunning combines the inner focus and flow of T’ai Chi with the power and energy of running to create a revolutionary running form and philosophy that takes the pounding, pain, and potential damage out of the sport of running. The ChiRunning program increases mental clarity and focus, enhances the joy of running, and turns running into a safe and effective lifelong program for health, fitness, and well-being.”
There is an entire technique associated with the ChiRunning style and to get it truly down pat you should practice it a lot, but just off the top, the little tiny tweaks I did as part of ChiRunning has made a huge, huge difference in my run, my stride and the way my body feels while I’m running. Basically, there is no pain involved with running anymore for me and I have terrible knees and running always hurts me in some way either during or after.
The ChiRunning book takes you through fixing your posture because running posture is a very, very key ingredient to running. But then, it also introduces the fabulous idea of working with gravity to run more efficiently.
“With the ChiRunning technique, instead of holding your posture upright and in line with the pull of gravity, you allow yourself to co-operate with the pull of gravity by letting yourself fall forward. Your body will then become a forward-falling object… Because your center of mass (your pelvis) is just ahead of your point of contact with the ground (your feet), your upper body falls forward…and all you have to do is pick up your feet to keep up with your fall.”
So basically, you are trying to catch yourself from falling with each step (which sounds really weird, but just try it), only it’s not a clumsy movement, it’s deliberate movement. By doing this, you are running from your center and your core rather than your legs, allowing your legs to just be along for the ride. The constant energy you expend by pushing your legs off the road with your feet in normal running is basically just gone.
The book focuses also on breathing, on what your other limbs should be doing while you’re running (which is nothing) and how to focus on a tight core and good posture while running. It also delves into your mind while running and how to be in touch with what your body is telling you while you’re running. Your mind has a great big deal to do with what your body does while it’s running and in order for you to get in a good run, the two have to be in synch.
I am really excited about working on this technique. That day on that run with just a couple of chapters under my belt, my run improved immensely. I went on to a 14 mile training run a week later and I beat my 1/2 marathon PR as well and I had no pain whatsoever after the run. Yesterday, I ran my fastest 10k ever. The movements feel natural and my body just moves. It makes running (for someone who used to hate it) fun. The book also talks about how we used to run as children, with no effort whatsoever, because we were focused on a game of tag or just running around the yard. This book helps take you back to that place, where you were when you ran as a kid. If you are in a place where running just isn’t fun, your joints hurt with every pound of the pavement, or you can’t focus or center yourself while running, try this technique! There is also a ChiWalking book for all those walkers out there!
ChiRunning is on sale at bookstores and on Amazon. There is also a DVD that explains the technique and there are workshops and ChiRunning instructors all over the country and the world so you can actually take a class on it.
Happy Fitness Friday everyone! Please share your running experiences in the comments and whether or not you’ve ever heard of this or tried this!
**Disclaimer: We are not fitness experts, we are only people like you who love to talk about things we’ve tried! The opinions expressed in this post are ours and ours alone. Please consult a doctor before beginning any fitness program, mkay? **
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