Days 62-63 – Chi Running

4 03 2010

I have a renewed energy inspired by a book I picked up on Tuesday called Chi Running (pronounced “chee”). Built on the principles of T’ai Chi, this method involves relaxed, efficient running with a mid-foot strike to prevent and/or recover from injuries.

Barefoot running is getting a lot of attention these days, with near-soleless running shoes on the market and books like Chris McDougall’s Born to Run touting the advantages of running without the aid of modern-day, high-tech shoes that may actually be causing injuries.

Chi Running’s Danny Dreyer is quoted in Time and on NPR, along with McDougall, and a Harvard researcher about theories and research on the fascinating topic.

So for me, all of these random things I’ve been doing and reading about are finally coming together in one place. I am desperate to prevent injuries as I increase mileage and head into my 40s. I want running to help me — not hurt me! I have felt so much better doing stretching based on Pilates and T’ai Chi (Classical Stretch) on my off-run days, so I was looking for more info. on T’ai Chi when I came across the Chi Running book. I’m just a few chapters into it, but anxious to keep reading and refocus my runs on my form. Running for 1-2 hours gives me plenty of time for that. Approx. 200 miles to go until the half-marathon!

Yesterday, I broke away from my book to try a new DVD from the library — Exhale Core Fusion for thighs and glutes. There are five 10-minute workouts, and you can do all of them in a row, which I tried. It’s very Pilates-like with stretching following strength building to elongate muscles vs. build bulk. My legs were shaking during several parts — in a good way!

Today I took my thighs and glutes on a 7-mile run in amazing 57 degree sunshine! I tried some of what I understand so far of the Chi technique — leaning forward, mid-foot striking (no pushing off the ground with your toes) and relaxing arms and shoulders. A lot to think about all at once. When I ran home heading east, I could watch my shadow to see the difference in leaning forward — letting gravity pull me along — a little awkwardly!

The downside to this new posture: when you lean forward and you’re sweaty, your sunglasses fall off and your nose runs. Guess I’ll deal with that if it saves my knees!