Saturday, January 15, 2011

Chi Running Refresher For Injury-Free Running

Running used to be pain. Knee pain. Hip pain. Shin splint pain. Plantar Fasciitis pain. Maybe some of you are experiencing the same kinds of running injuries that I used to. Running injuries are so common among runners we just kind of get used to them. We talk about them in coffee shops.

"So how's the marathon training Charlie?"
"Oh okay. The knee's getting better. I got a bit of an IT band thing going right now."
"Oh yeah, me too. I got one of these foam rollers and some orthotics and I think that's helping."

Only it doesn't help. Or maybe it does and you just get some other injury for overcompensating for the first one.

Then six years ago I found Chi Running, and it was like my running found religion, hallelujah! No more pain! Throw away that knee brace, and run free. It wasn't a quick fix solution though. When I started using the Chi Running techniques, I went to a small track near my daughter's dance studio and did the following, over and over and over again:

  • Adjusted my posture, my core, and my Chi
  • Leaned forward at a slight angle
  • Started running with good form
  • Made it about 200 yards before my good form fell apart
  • Stopped and started over again.

After awhile, I could run longer and longer before my form fell to pieces. That year I ran a marathon with no knee brace, no IT band pain, no injuries whatsoever. And here's the kicker....

I have run pain- and injury-free for six years since that first Chi Running workshop.

You heard me. Pain and injury free. Well, except the time I tripped over my dog and broke my arm, but I'm not counting that one.

So today I went for a refresher at Keith McConnell's Chi Running Workshop here in Track Town USA. It was really helpful to correct some of the areas that have gotten a bit sloppy in my form. All of that rocky, rooty, hilly trail running has also helped erode my technique as well. I went for a flat run the other day and noticed I was not near as smooth as I used to be. 

For several hours today, Keith explained the techniques and had us do all kinds of fun little exercises with feedback to make sure we were getting it down. Then we went out to run (unfortunately in the pouring rain) for more technique work.  

Also, athlete Julie who I am coaching to train for a half-marathon has been having some knee pain while running, and I suggested she do the Chi Running thing. She was instantly impressed by how effortless the running felt during the workshop, without that usual five minutes of warmup hell where running just feels sluggish and wrong. I think the techniques we learned today will help her get to her half-marathon goal with an easier stride and no running injuries or problems.

I'm looking forward to many more years of smooth, chi-filled, painless and injury-free running. For those of you starting to think about barefoot running or running in the Five Fingers toe shoes or other minimalist shoes, I highly recommend Chi Running as a great way to transition from the traditional heel-strike stride to a barefoot-friendly midfoot stride.


ATW said...

I may have to look into this. A few years ago I thought it was Hokus Pokus, but the more I am engulfed with running I see that there are some principals that I need to apply. Im recovering from an IT band rupture I acquired from the 50 miler I ran back in OCT. Its brutal. One fact, Im not getting any younger, and my desire for running isn't getting any weaker.

Endurancedad said...

Chi and POSE are great and thanks for reminding us to go back and look at our form. I'm sure now I need to go back to give my form some tweeking. Thanks!

Run Momma Run said...

Hi Robin - Laura here from Run Momma Run. I was in the ChiRunning class with you and had a great time honing in on my form that I knew wasn't quite right. I had missed some elements even after reading Danny's book a while back and am glad to be back in the 'flow' so to speak. Anyway, I've heard great things about your from Julie and Carrie. Hope to hook up with you sometime. See you on Twitter/blog.

Megan said...

I have come across you via chubby mommy. I have wanted to come to one of your wednesday morning workouts, but I do overnight hospice care, and do not get off work until 7:30. Any possibility of another timeframe for those workouts? I would love to get your feedback on my newly acquired chi running efforts. You can contact me at Thanks!