Seeking chi (and a winner)

Let’s start this off with the winner of my thank-you giveaway. chose number 116 out of 131, so the winner is ozone3. Send me an email with your contact info and I’ll get the package out to you!

Now onto my continuing journey that is called running: There are lots of theories about how we should run. My old way of thinking was that running was about as simple as it got and that there was no need to think about how I was doing it. To some extent, I still agree with that–running is simple. But now I am also coming at it from the viewpoint that a combination of bad shoes and just the plain old maturation process can lead to a loss of natural running form. To get it back, you need to do some work.

Yesterday I took a chi running clinic, led by founder Danny Dreyer, to help progress my running form–or perhaps regress my running form–back to a natural state. If you ever watch kids run, you know what this looks like. I want that back.

Danny Dreyer discussing running shoes

The clinic was an all-day event and even with that, I left knowing I have LOTS of work to do. Danny led us through a building block approach to the chi running method. We began by learning how to align our body and as we moved through the day, gradually added on other elements until we could feel what proper running form was. While Danny taught, he had several of his certified chi instructors making the rounds among us to give more individualized attention. I found this really helpful because quite often, I might have thought I was doing something right but wasn’t. Or, I knew I wasn’t getting something and my instructor helped me get where I needed to be.

A couple of things really resonated with me from the clinic. One is to approach running as a practice, not a sport–much as we practice yoga. This is a fantastic way to look at it. I am just a student of running and will be for the rest of my life. The other thing I really liked was that Danny told us that if one or two things really clicked yesterday, to make that our starting point with chi running. My “click” was that I learned how to be a quieter runner. So that’s where I’m going to concentrate first.

There’s my “zen of running” nugget for the day. Do you concentrate on your running form? Or do you think you should just let it happen?

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  1. ShutUpandRun says

    Love this. Especially the part about running being a practice. Yes, I am constantly thinking about my form, foot strike, cadence. It give me focus when I run.

  2. Michelle says

    Sounds like a good day! After my clinic yesterday I so know what you mean about approaching running like a practice!

  3. Steel Springs says

    That sounds like a great clinic! I love the idea of the instructors circling through the crowd. I think about my form while running, but sometimes I can't quite figure out what I should change to get things more in line.

  4. Mamarunsbarefoot says

    Take a look at Pose running too. They have a website with great info. it's along the same lines. Yes I concentrate A LOT on my form now that I am trying to do what I did barefoot in my shoes. Eventually it should be completely natural but I'm always paranoid of striking heel first.. BTW yes I'm a loon, I did do it for 3 hours.. I was LONG!!!

  5. Adrienne says

    Running as a practice-genius!! I raced this weekend in my Green Silences and loved the experience. Now if only my current fitness would be as awesome as the shoes!!

  6. Jennifer says

    I have been told I have very good form, I don't concentrate too much on it but when I am tired I work harder on visualization and that keeps me up and tall. When I am really, really tired I can get all bent up and when I fix that the running is so much easier. Good for you taking the clinic and I bet it will help you tons!

  7. Laurie says

    I try to concentrate on my form, especially when I'm running with the stroller, otherwise I get all hunched over. I checked out Chi Running from the library but really think the clinic is the way to go.

  8. Katie says

    when I had IT band problems the first time, I did a lot of reading/research on chi running. i find it fascinating.

  9. Jeff - DangleTheCarrot says

    I concentrate on running form all the time: Cadence, elbow position, foot strike, posture …etc. I am not OCD about it but as a triathlete I figure if I can conserve energy by correcting inefficiencies in my movements that it will make me a stronger/faster runner. AND it helps pass the time on long runs (-:

  10. Johann says

    I just let it happen. I've never concentrated on anything like form, foot strike or cadence. I just relax and run (and walk). Glad you enjoyed the clinic.

  11. Angie Bee says

    I agree completely that it is a practice thing!
    I focus on relaxing and letting my breath sync up with my steps.
    Wonderful aha moment about being quiet. Excellent place to focus! Very similar to my relaxing. I focus also on relaxing my face and my shoulders. Keeping my hands loose instead of in fists.
    I am LOVING reading about your journey!

  12. Anna says

    Ever since I read Born to Run, I've been very curious about barefoot running. I love reading about your barefoot journey! I do have to focus on my running form to keep myself from heel striking. Running in Nike Frees has helped me run with a more mid-foot strike, but when I switch to big old Brooks Adrenaline for longer runs, my feet tend to forget how to land.

  13. Heather says

    I think about my form and cadence while running, probably half of the time. This clinic sounds awesome! You must have gotten alot out of it.

  14. Matty O says

    Focus on form. If not it never happens.

    I slump over at times, so I engage my core. My legs will wander a bit so I bring them back. Arms can flail out a bit, keep that tight.

    Good post.

    Hope you are writing stuff down, you brain will explode soon with info overload 😉

  15. Marlene says

    I am trying to be more aware of my form lately and making subtle corrections with help. (I run very upright and carry my arms too high)

    I read Chi Running and LOVE to take a clinic if there was ever one nearby. Sounds worthwhile!!

  16. Fran says

    Sounds like a very interesting day.

    I don't watch my form, right now I'm focussing on finishing that half. I guess I'm lazy too by not watching it because I never had injuries. So I just let it happen. But I might want to look into it soon.

  17. cheryl says

    It's kinda like swimming…form is something you have, or if you don't you have to think about it.
    And when you are fatiguing and stop thinking about it, everything goes back to the old and bad habits-so no, I don't think form can be changed in the "long run" (pun not intended).
    Some of the best runners have had terrible form. (Look at Paula Radcliff and her head bob…the CHI guy would tear her apart-but she's a world class marathoner…!)

  18. HappyTrails says

    Becoming a 'quiet' runner – that is a great word picture to help with improving form. I think trying to be more 'quiet' would require shortening the stride, landing more softly, and probably landing more mid to fore foot. Great visual! And BTW, going back a few posts – Pearl Izumi = quality. They make great gear!

  19. Caratunk Girl says

    I SO want to go to one of those clinics! I am really working on running quieter now too, it is HARD for me to get. But I am definitely a LOUD runner, and although I read Chi running, I really would like to hear Danny speak and just do something similar to what you did. Sometime soon I hope! :) I really like what you said about running being a practice, not so much a sport…if you read Born to Run, the same idea permeates that book.

  20. Julie says

    I'm with Kovas. I like to just run and if it feels good…it must be good??

    However, with my recent injuries, I am paying more attention to certain things. Right now I'm working on changing my body position a bit thanks to Chris Ks video from his coach. I'm also trying to land softer.

  21. Jason says

    Since learning that form is the utmost in swimming I have focused on running with what I consider proper form. My coach calls it PROUD.

    Stand up with shoulders back and core tight. Sort of like a 'Take A Look At Me' approach to running. I always know when it goes downhill and that is usually during speedwork and I have to work hard to get it back.

  22. Meg says

    I think this clinic really helped change my form and make me more aware of moving forward with each stride rather than going down into the ground with my feet, which was what I used to do naturally. I love the book!

  23. Gracie (Complicated Day) says

    Honestly I kind of think we should let it happen – or at least, I should let it happen! If I mess with my form I get injured!

  24. Kara says

    I think about my form a lot since I run on a good # of hills in my area and that helps. I sometimes have to "make" myself relax. For the most part it seems natural but I find that I do concentrate on it – that and breathing.

  25. danny says

    Because I like to be contrary – I don't like the "practice" idea. Running is suppose to be like "play". Even in hard "training" you're really just playing hard. But then who am I but some unknown blogger who has never accomplished anything? :)

  26. Michael says

    Wow that sounds like a great clinic. I have been working on my running form which is usually hunched over and arms side to side – not pretty. I just won the Chi Running book and can't wait to read it.

  27. Richelle says

    I've been working on keeping my cadence at 180 bpm. It's hard because I get distracted easily, and when I do my cadence slows. I recently went through the songs on my iPod to determine which ones had a bpm around 180 and created a playlist containing just those songs.

    I picked up the Chi Running book when the nearby Borders closed and am looking forward to reading it. I'd love to take a clinic with either a chi running or barefoot running instructor.

  28. Silly Girl Running says

    Thanks for sharing: very informative!
    I've been working on my running form for the last couple of months and no regrets here. Shortening my stride, mid-foot strike, etcetera. It's still work in progress and I'm considering signing up for a chi- or pose- running clinic to help me find me form.

  29. Anne says

    Sounds like a great clinic…I have to say that since I started running (a mere 2 years ago) I've had to adapt to new shoes and focus on a better running form and well, although I feel great doing it all now, it's definitely gotten a bit more, not less complicated :)
    I love the idea of being a student of running for the rest of my life. Thanks!

  30. AM-GoalsfortheWeek! says

    Hi there!
    Love that you took this clinic! That's fabulous. I have a few friends who took one from him (on the sandy beaches somewhere of all places!) and really benefited.

    and sooo hear you on being a lifetime student of running!

  31. Tricia says

    loved this. I've been wanting to take a clinic. I keep reading the book (over and again) and am hopefully putting it into practice.

  32. Beth says

    I love the idea of running as a practice rather than a sport. I really think running goes hand in hand with yoga!

  33. Katie says

    I think if your wearing the right shoes and running on the right terrain, good running form often just happens. For example, more flexible shoes and trails help a lot. But I've also been taught that perfect practice makes perfect. So I do think that proper running form drills can also be a tremendous help.

  34. Joanne says

    So interesting. I think we all believe we should simply be able to lace up and run. In order to be a good runner and progress injury free, it takes more than that.
    Zoning out might be more enjoyable and more relaxed but I believe that's when our form suffers. We might droop our shoulders, sink in the core, our arms my not help our run as they should if incorporated properly. So, on a relaxed training day, low miles, I'll zone out. In a race or a focused training session, I try to pay attention to all the details.

  35. Amanda - RunToTheFinish says

    ohh you got to learn from the master, that is so cool!! I have enjoyed his book and I really hope that all of the things I'm trying are making me a better healthier runner

  36. JenniferLeah says

    I just finished up tons of work with a PT to fix some biomech. issues I had that were causing some knee pain and so yes, I spend a lot of time focusing on my "new" running form-althought it is coming easier now and I don't have to think too much about it.
    I have heard a lot about chi running and our tri club is actually planning a group clinic soon so will def check it out!
    Looking forward to hearing more from you about i8t

  37. Jen says

    You're so lucky! I would love to have someone right there to correct my form! I do have a running partner who helps me out but neither one of us are professionals and I'm sure that makes a difference.
    Barefoot Running by Michael Sandler has some great tips for proper alignment that I have found useful. Might be worth adding to your huge stack of reading material!

  38. The Green Girl says

    I swear by ChiRunning. I may not always maintain the form but when I get tired, I really focus on what I've learned.