Keith McConnell’s ChiRunnig workshop here in Eugene last Saturday was exactly what I wanted. I’ve been in love with the concept and my so-far-practice of ChiRunning since I read Danny Dreyer’s book “ChiRunning: A Revolutionary Approach to Effortless Injury-Free Running” I say in love because even the small changes I have made in my running form completely alleviated my 5-year fight with my left IT band. My entire left leg, actually, was my nemesis for a long time. From my hip flexors, groin, IT and calf, if it was on my left side, it gave me grief. Those of you who have suffered with it, know that dreaded feeling of it coming on at mile 4, then mile 10, then 18 and you wonder if you’ll ever be able to run without feeling like your leg is going to fold in half. For good. I had to bail out of 2 marathon trainings and pushed through a marathon I shouldn’t have in total agony. But since finding ChiRunning, the last 7 races, including a trail marathon and 50K, have been IT-pain-free.
Even though Danny’s book was an excellent read in that he went step-by-step with illustrations about ChiRunning form (the core of effortless running), I knew that I needed a hands-on session with a trainer to give me feedback on the changes I was making. Keith started at the beginning with how to stand, line up the ankle, hip and shoulder and how to bend at the hip “just so” get the alignment happening. From there we practiced our lean, the ‘gas pedal’ of running and how to run from our ‘core’ muscles not our legs. Some of the principals of the practice almost seem counter-intuitive with regards to how we’ve been taught to power our way down the road, up a hill or on a trail. Relax your legs and feet? Really? But it works. There’s alot more to it and the book (and DVDs) are a great start, but I highly recommend taking a class if you have one in your area.
I took a run the following day and focused on my lean, my arm backswing and running from my core muscles while relaxing my legs. I meant to do a slow, easy 4 miles, but noticed my last two miles were 2 minutes/mile faster than planned without a noticeable increase in effort. Hating to quit at 4 miles, but needing to get on with work and chores for the day, I remembered another great thing about ChiRunning… easier running means easier faster running. Sweet!
Have you tried ChiRunning? If so, what did you think?