This morning I had the opportunity to attend a ChiRunning workshop held at the clinic where I work. I have heard about the basic principles before, but I was interested in learning more. ChiRunning is a type of barefoot running style, and proponents claim it is more energy-efficient and decreases the risk of injury. This description on the ChiRuning website explains it very well:
“Chi Running blends the powerful movement principles from T’ai Chi, with running, to create a revolutionary approach to effortless and injury-free running.
The cornerstones of Chi Running are postural alignment and relaxation because the combination of the two is the best way to run faster, farther and injury-free. Chi Running includes: landing with a midfoot strike, using a “gravity-assisted” forward lean and engaging core strength for propulsion rather than leg strength. This approach makes your running easier and healthier for your whole body.”
First the instructor had us do a few body-loosening warm-up drills, then she videotaped us running how we normally run. Most of the people were heavy heel strikers, I was more of a midfoot striker, but my alignment was all wrong. ChiRunning has its own posture, which we learned step-by-step through drills. It involves leveling the pelvis, making sure the shoulders, hips, and ankles form a straight line, and relaxing the lower legs, especially the ankles.
You start to run by leaning forward as you hold the correct posture, and running becomes a controlled fall. Your feet land underneath you instead of out in front of you. Instead of pushing off with the ball of the foot, the focus is on lifting the heel, or peeling the foot off the ground. You should picture the earth as a treadmill, where all you have to do is bend your knees.
Emphasis is also placed on turnover rate. No matter how fast or slow you are running, you should be turning over at 180 footfalls per minute. The instructor even had a metronome to help us practice. Leaning forward is your “gas pedal.” The more you lean forward, the faster you will run. Your stride circle will become larger, but you will still be running at the same turnover rate.
Another interesting topic was arm swing. We were advised to swing our arms backwards instead of forwards. In other words, pretend you are elbowing someone behind you, keeping your arms bent at 90 degrees. By swinging them backwards, you are balancing out the forward lean.
Overall the workshop was interesting, and I learned a few tips that I will incorporate into my own running. At the end of the class we were videotaped again to see our progress, and I should be getting my videos soon to compare before and after. I will post them here so you can see what I am talking about.
Do you pay attention to your running form? Or do you just run however it feels natural?
I have been trying to pay more attention in the last year or two because I want to stay injury free. I know I used to be a heel-striker, and I have changed to midfoot which seems to be working for me. I also moved to a more minimal shoe which I love.