Monday, October 10, 2011

Running + Tai Chi

Running + Tai Chi = ChiRunning
You feel my Chi?
posted by Melissa Baumgart
The running 1 mile every day is still going strong.  Well, actually, I don't know if strong is a good word to describe it.  I'll just say it is still going.  And for the past couple days, the fact that I have simply run at all seems to be enough.  I haven't tried to run faster.  I have settled into keeping a pace that doesn't provoke the intense, deep, fast breathing that has created a spasmodic cough.  The cough makes me feel like I am going to not be able to breathe, and I hack loudly and scare people in public.

I was perusing Facebook today (i.e. not studying, but hey, 3 week into the quarter and I don't even know if I am going to be funded to stay in school, so maybe it doesn't matter) and saw that a friend had mentioned ChiRunning.  He was wondering if anyone out there knew about it, or had tried it.

Since we are all running this month, I felt compelled to check it out.  The name almost turned me off completely, and the website didn't immediately soothe those apprehensions.  With quotes like: "In Chi Running, Chi Walking and Chi Living (ChiLiving?!  Really??) we encourage all movement, all action, all choices to come from this center, that deep place in yourself that is home to your greatest potential and power" and a promise of a Money-Back Guarantee!

But, being an avid infomercial viewer,  I continued on.

I found an article called "10 Components of Good Running Technique".  Their (adapted) list is as follows:

  1. Flexibility   Flexibility doesn't just happen, you have to work at it. Even stretching a few minutes a day is enough for most people to maintain a good range of motion and decrease their chances of injury due to muscle pulls.
  2. Good posture  The more you slump, the more your body's muscles need to work to hold you upright. Poor posture not only restricts the circulation of blood to your muscles and organs but also inhibits the oxygen supply to your brain, which is not good, especially when you try to do something like thinking or running.
  3. Good leg motion  Having too long of a stride, or "over-striding," is a huge cause of both hamstring and knee injuries. 
  4. Cadence  Most people have too slow of a cadence.  (That surprised me.)  When you run you want to spend the least amount of time on your legs as possible. The longer you take with each stride, the more time your foot spends on the ground, and the more energy your legs have to expend to support your body weight. 
  5. Body Sensing  You must develop a good ability to monitor and sense all of the major muscle groups of your body and to be able to sense tension or tightness in your muscles. Then you need to combine this with the ability to relax isolated muscle groups. This will help you to develop your strengths and make changes in the weak areas of your running technique.
  6. Good mental focus  When you've felt, through Body Sensing, what adjustments you need to make to your running technique, you can then use your mental focus to tell your body what to do, until it has learned the new technique and your body does it naturally.
  7. Good upper body/lower body coordination  When your upper body and lower body are working in unison rather than against each other it spreads the work of running over the whole body and takes the load off of any single muscle group.
  8. Good breathing habits  Watch a baby breathing sometime. You won't see his chest rise and fall with each breath. Instead you'll see his abdominal area expand and contract like a someone breathing in and out of a balloon. This is how we should breathe and it's how you are taught to breathe in any yoga class. It's called "belly breathing" and it's how we should all be breathing all the time.  (Perhaps why my throat hurts, maybe I am not "belly breathing")
  9. Proper bend in your knees and elbows  The less you bend your arms and legs, the more work your muscles have to do when you're running. 
  10. Staying relaxed  This includes having a good sense of humor (No problem!) and having the ability to observe what is going on within you and around you and responding wisely to those observations.
I spent some more time looking through the website and I found it to be inspiring.  I feel like even I could run a marathon if I buy their books, DVD and metronome.  

Seriously though, I think it is worth trying to find a copy or seeing if the library has one I can borrow.  Even though I do have a problem returning books and it could end up costing me $100 in the end anyway.



Saints and Spinners said...

At least that 100 dollars in overdue fines is going toward an underfunded Public Good institution! :) I am prepping for my first 5k, and my big challenge is dealing with stomach cramps (cutting down on coffee has helped). This morning, a good part of my running involved pressing into those muscles with my hands while I breathed into the pain. When the pain isn't there, I cup my hands as if I were carrying raw eggs. It seems to help better than clenching my hands into fists.

I haven't gotten to the point where I love running, but I love the post-run feeling. There are times during a run when I think, "Hey, this is okay." That's a big improvement over the wretchedness of high school gym class.

Melissa Baumgart said...

Haha, I often think that as well, at least it went to the library! Good luck on your 5K!! That is awesome!

And yes, I agree, those OK moments are priceless.
once I ran a 10K, and when training for it, I got what I assumed was a "runner's high" and it was amazing. It only happened once, but I still remember it.

Thanks for reading along...