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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 . . .


  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.

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

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

  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!