TALES FROM THE TRAIL (AND SOMETIMES THE ROAD TOO)

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Saturday, April 9, 2011

Chi Running Clinic

This morning I did something I’ve been wanting to do for a along time – ever since I first read Danny Dreyer,’s Chi Running.  I didn’t search out this book.  It was actually happenstance that I even saw it.  After my oldest son’s taekwondo lesson, the family walked over to the juice store and while they ordered, I perused the few books on display.  And there I saw one paperback copy on the shelf.  The few words I read standing in the store mentioned running injury free, running effortlessly.media

Needless to say, I purchased the book.  And I read it.  This was back before I began trail running.  I conquered, or thought I conquered a few of the “focuses”.  Mainly, what I did was master the mid-foot strike, which is a good thing in itself (especially since I suffer from forefoot/toe problems, even had foot surgery on the left foot).

2010 was a pretty bad year for injuries with me – there was the car accident of course, and lots of running injuries.  As 2011 approached, I said never again, and vowed to conquer the Chi Running method.  (Some personal back story, my father was a baseball and softball coach, not to mention umpire through all my childhood and young adult years.  In the garage, he had a bucket of baseballs.  One of them has written in pen the words, “Never Forget,” which signified a turning point in his coaching years, reminding him of a particularly bad playoff loss.  My Never Again, sort of signifies the same – never again will I run so badly injured, never again will I enter a race so badly trained).  

Anyway, I picked up Chi Running book again several months ago.  But you know how it goes?  Sometimes reading just doesn’t do it.  You have to DO IT.

After a night full of rain, I woke again at 5:30 AM, lounged about and headed out for Mission Bay, San Diego.  The skies were brilliant blue with big puffy clouds.  The weather a bit cool.  I couldn’t have asked for better training weather.

Only one other woman made this class, which made the money, well, well worth it for me.  Four hours with a running coach and only one other runner – I call that a deal!

Our coach, Ben Boyd, took us through every aspect of Chi Running, beginning first with a straight column.  Let me tell you, I felt very dorkish/awkward getting that column straight, so much so, I thought I must have looked like an idiot.  Oddly, when he filmed us standing then running at the end of our session, I was amazed that in my “straight column” form I looked perfectly natural and straight.

I won’t bother you with all the minor details.  The highlights I received from this awesome 4 hour lesson were much more than I can even mention.  Just a few things:

1)  I learned to listen to my step, and found that when I placed my foot back down, I was actually “putting on the breaks,” as I word it.  In other words, I was sliding my foot forward, putting more work on my calves and slowing myself down!

2) I was running a much slower cadence than Chi Running recommends (we wore metronomes in this class set at 85 beats per minutes, which equates to 170 steps per minute), and surprisingly, I felt comfortable increasing my cadence once I got my form down.

3)  Getting my form down WAS NOT EASY.  But I learned a lot to get started and some things to do around the house to simply get my body to memorize the form.

4)  After watching myself on film (IN SLOW MOTION – YIKES), I saw that I continually kept my head down (a trail running habit, but not good form) and also when I made that mid-foot strike, I actually bent my knee down further (adding un-needed work on those quads), sort-of lunging, which is a deficit in running effortlessly.  I should immediately lift that foot back up and forget that slight plunge down. 

5)  Most importantly, I really got to experience the “tilt” and how to “change gears” in order to increase speed.  And though I was no speed demon out there today, I felt firsthand, after practicing for 4 hours, that increasing speed does not require nearly as much effort as it has been with my “current” method.  It’s all a matter of working with gravity and not against it, like I had been all long.

Now, I am not a believer in “quick fixes” and Chi Running is certainly not a “quick fix.”  It is not however, an extremely difficult “fix” to my running form/strategy.  With practice, not only in my running, but with daily practices, I am hopeful that I WILL see results.

Stay tuned . . .

4 comments:

  1. Quite some time ago I used a Chi Running technique for running down hills. I don't think I ever ran down a hill so quickly with such control. Maybe I should revisit this again too. Thanks for the nudge.

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  2. Good luck with the ChiRunning! I swear by it!

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  3. I'm really hoping for this to help me with the uphills Windnsnow! Nah, running overall. I'm impressed so far.

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  4. Thanks Green Girl. I'm pretty amazed so far. If I could just get through the year with no injuries, I'd be one happy, happy gal!

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