A few weeks ago a fellow runner and blogger, Jessica Payne opened my eyes to ChiRunning. If you haven’t visited Jess’s blog I encourage you to check it out at, http://runpinkjess.com. Jessica was raising money for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and held a little drawing for donors. I was lucky enough to win and the prize was a book titled, “Chi Running” by Danny Dreyer. I had never heard of ChiRunning before getting the book but after a quick browse through the pages I was intrigued enough to read it in more detail.
ChiRunning is a running technique based on martial arts skills of T’ai Chi. ChiRunning seems to be closely related to the elements of neigong and qigong which focuses on breathing, movement and awareness exercises. ChiRunning was created by Danny Dreyer in 1999. You can learn more by visiting his website at, http://www.chirunning.com
Basically, the main principles of ChiRunning are:
- Correct alignment and posture
- Landing with a midfoot strike
- Using a “gravity-assisted” forward lean
- Engaging core strength for propulsion
- Connecting the mind and body to prevent injury
Through my own running experience I’ve discovered relaxation, posture and a midfoot strike are keys to preventing injuries so much of the focus in ChiRunning follows my own principles of running. Martial arts is something I’ve never had an interest but running relaxed without injury is something I have a great deal of interest. I like enough of the principles of ChiRunning I’m willing to give it a try.
I’ve just barely examined the focus areas of ChiRunning and it will probably take me several weeks to a few months just to get comfortable with the focus areas. I know it’s going to take months for this technique to become natural.
This week I’m just focusing on two things: nose breathing and cadence. I’ve always been a mouth breather. ChiRunning principles ask you to breath in from your nose and exhale out of your mouth. I can’t believe how hard this is for me to change. I get all out of whack. I forget to breath out from my mouth. Sometimes my stomach is going in when it should be going out. Or I completely forget to breath in through my nose and start breathing in and out through my mouth. I’m hoping this is a common problem for runners to learn. I’m just a few months shy of sixty years old and you know what they say about teaching old dogs new tricks. I’m hoping my problem is the former and not the latter.
Cadence seems to come naturally for me! ChiRunning asks you to run with a cadence between 85-90 strides per minute. After a few trial tests of my cadence I’m pretty confident my natural pace is at or very close to 90 strides per minute. At least I have one focus area I don’t have to worry much about. I’m sure my cadence does fluctuate and I know I’ll need to work on that but staying steady isn’t usually that hard for me.
I’m posting this now for two reasons really. Now that it’s public knowledge this puts a little more pressure on me to continue practicing ChiRunning. I’m willing to give it six months to a year before I pass judgement. So, that means you probably won’t hear a lot about my specific progress with learning ChiRunning for several months. Maybe on my 60th birthday would be a good time to post an update? What do you think? I’m curious to see what affect this will have on my performance. If my performance drops initially I’m not going to be too concerned. I want to give this a fair shot. My second reason is I didn’t want to wait six months to a year to tell you about my experience with ChiRunning. If I think there is potential benefit to this technique then you should know it. If this posts sparks any curiosity in ChiRunning then by all means don’t wait for me to tell you how well (or not) it works. Go ahead and explore and learn about it for yourself.
There! Now I’ve said it. I’m not sure where this journey will take me but I plan to enjoy the ride.