Instead of sleeping in on sunday morning I woke up at a very reasonable time to get moving! Earlier this week I saw an announcement on Facebook about a Chi-running clinic at Run2Day, the store I talked about in my previous post. A few years ago I read about Chi-running for the first time on a blog. I was intrigued by this natural way running, which focuses on chi (life energy) instead of muscles and strength. I read up on it online and watched a tutorial video about it, but when I tried it outside I never really felt it; this freedom.

Basic position
With Chi-running there is a lot to think about when you first start.
1. Stand up straight; as if your shoulders, hips and ankles are connected by a straight line
2. Look down to your shoes; can you see your shoelaces? Then you’re ok! Can’t? Your hips are then too far forward, place your fingertips on your hipbones and slightly push your hips backwards while keeping your upper body straight. One you spot your shoelaces you’re good to go! Lift your head up afterwards to return to your straight position
3. Finally, lift your pelvis (bekken in Dutch) up in front by using your lower abs (not your glutes!)
4. Feel your column from your head to your feet, and try to maintain it the whole time

Once you’re in the right position you’re good to go. But… I’m finding it rather difficult to maintain this position while I’m running. But this is the basic position from which you start practicing chi running. So let’s get on with the actual movement.

Lean mean running machine
If you’ve found the right position it’s time to get moving. Of course there is a special technique for that too! Chi running let’s you experience running/moving the way you did when you were a child. It’s based on leaning over and letting your feet keep up with that. Abracadabra? A little step by step might make this a little better to digest. First we start off with a walking exercise in order to explain on how to move.
1. Find a tree/wall/giant/elephant and practice leaning/falling forward (with a distance of ca. 30 cm.)
2. While falling try to adjust your column to the movement
3. Relax your ankles the whole time
4. Walk around a bit and practice picking up your feet; relaxing your ankles (your foot should be unflexed “hanging” down)
5. Pic up each foot higher than the opposite ankle, and try to land on your whole foot when taking steps (like you’re sneaking up on someone)

And now… we run!
1. Find your basic posture again, feel your column
2. Bend your arms 90 degrees while keeping your shoulders relaxed
3. Lean from your ankles until you feel like you need to move your feet to prevent you from falling down, and use your feet to catch your fall (try to land on your mid foot! You’re still sneaking up on that non-chi runner). Make sure to keep your upper body in front of your foot strike; your feet are trying to keep up with your leaning, not the other way around!
4. The more you lean the faster you go (90 degrees non recommended)
5.  Keep your upper body extended out front while your legs swing out the back
6. Don’t (!) push off with your toes

This is very very very basic introduction to Chi running. To get a better idea about the concept of Chi running I’d advice you to go to the website to read more about it, read the book or watch a few tutorials on Youtube.

During the clinic they provided us with some Nike free running shoes.  These shoes have thinner soles and are a better fit into this naturalistic running method. I have to say that they were very comfortable, you’re closer to the ground and your heel is in line with your feet instead of higher up. Although my Adidas Glide do have a slightly higher heel they’re very comfortable. But once I get this Chi running technique tackled, I might just wish a pair of those pretty Nike plus shoes. You can see the difference here.

Training update
I’ve been running for more than a month now and even though I’m taking baby steps I feel I’m improving. Usually I run three times a week, upping my running time from 1 to 5 minutes straight. I prefer running in the morning because it’s my favorite part of the day. I love to run in the early morning sun, while people are passing me by on their way to work. It’s also fun to run through a shopping street where the butcher, bakery and other tiny grocery stores are opening up. Gives me so much energy for the rest of the day! Only 159 more days until the Dam tot Dam, excited!!

Are there fellow Chi runners out there?
Did you sign up for the Dam tot Damloop?
Any training advice?

Have a great weekend!

/ Dani


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