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Chi Running is a fusion of T’ai Chi and running, incorporating the natural movements of the martial art into the science of running injury-free. The process is heavily focused on proper alignment, starting from the core and keeping the feet completely relaxed while you lean forward and fall into your steps. I liken it to running like an intoxicated platypus, but that’s probably not very helpful.
I listened to the ChiRunning audiobook a few months ago when I first started running again and I absolutely loved it. I noticed that Danny was doing a workshop here in town, so I had to sign up!
For the $225 I invested, I had some pretty high expectations and I was not disappointed. Danny is an amazing speaker and a genuine, friendly guy. His approach to teaching is to talk, demonstrate, then have the class participate, so there was plenty of opportunities to practice the positioning.
There are several elements to remember when you set out for a run in terms of how to align your body for greatest efficiency and minimal impact. A few of those items (from the feet up):
- When you take steps, aim to land on the middle of your foot, landing with even weight on the front and heel….like a platypus (heel striking is a no-no).
- Keep everything below your hips super relaxed, so you could actually wiggle your toes while in mid-stride.
- Your foot should land directly under your body, not in front (that’s the heel strike).
- Lean forward as you run, with your whole body. Like you’re going to fall over, but you stop yourself with your next step.
- Keep your ankles, hips, and shoulders in alignment, and pull up from the crown of the head.
- Keep your core (specifically the area below your belly button) engaged as you run.
- Keep your elbows bent and hands in a relaxed fist. Kick your elbows directly behind you as you run, not swinging in front of your body like a drunken sailor.
- Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth (very hard for me).
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There were a ton of other lessons in terms of how to work your hips and leg strides for greater speed etc, but I don’t trust myself to explain them properly. I’d probably give you the wrong instruction and you’d wind up in a body cast.
Better that you check out a few of these videos below, or get his App. It’s got all the postures broken down and audio cues for when you’re out on a run and need a reminder to correct your posture (which in my case is every 3 seconds for the next 9 years).
Danny has created a little Chi Running empire and he now has trained coaches all over the world. I met a few local coaches and I plan to follow up for a practice run in about a month to ensure I’m still doing this right.
Meanwhile, I’m just trying to keep all these reminders top of mind as I put one flat foot in front of the other. So far it’s been a tremendous help for me as my long runs start to move up toward the 10-mile mark!
Avoiding the heel strike…
Favorite Running Gear (for the total fitness nerd)
Besides keeping proper form, I find using technology and a good pair of shoes goes a long way to keeping running interesting and helping me stay consistent. Here are a few of my favorite running gadgets that help with motivation and tracking:
At first, I wasn’t sure this was worth the investment, but then I was introduced to the app that not only tracks my steps and workout time (big motivator), but it also tracks my sleep, which is freaking BRILLIANT. As you know, I preach sleep as the number one fat loss tool and sanity keeper. I also love that the band comes in a cute pink color.
Because not only are they great to run in, the colors are the cutest.
I love this monitor because it’s connected to an app on my iphone that tells me my speed, distance, average heart rate and calories burned. Then after every workout, I’ve got a record in my phone that tracks my progress which is super motivational.
A good pair of wireless headphones can also go a long way to keeping yourself untangled.
Ready to head out for a run yet?
Caren is a certified yoga teacher, fitness instructor and author of The Fit Habit. Here she shares simple, healthy recipes, home workout ideas and practical ways to foster mind + body wellness.