Today is a scheduled rest day, but I ran this morning anyway. I can tell when I need one, and if I do later this week I will take it for sure. But this morning I felt good, and I kept my run short.
Nothing exciting or remarkable to add, really. To make this post worth reading (and writing!) I give you the long awaited review of…
CHI RUNNING REVIEW:
I really enjoyed Dreyer’s insights into running and the principles of Tai Chi. His vast knowledge of the sport combined with his studies of Tai Chi and physics make him very credible, and I don’t doubt the legitimacy of the revolutionary claims he makes…quite often throughout the book, might I add.
So, what is Chi Running?
Dreyer believes that running is not the cause of 65% of runners being injured each year, instead it is their poor form. He wants us to run naturally, like children, or animals (Tai Chi is based on animal movement).
Chi Running is the effort to decrease your Perceived Exertion Level by maintaining good posture, opening your joints, and relaxing your muscles. (Hellooooo yoga!)
-Cotton & Steel; Gather to your center. Basically, your spine is like steel, which is where your “chi” should come from, and your appendages should be soft and relaxed like cotton.
-Gradual Progress;This won’t be an overnight transformation. Work on principles individually and you will see results at each stage.
-The Pyramid; Small muscles and movements should be supported by LARGE muscles and movements. Makes sense, huh?
-Balance in Motion; Movement should be equal and complimentary
-Nonidentification; Get yourself out of the way! This is my biggest weakness for sure.
Applying Chi Running Principles:
-Gather to your center
-Start slowly, then pick up speed
-Your psoas muscles and hip flexors should pick up your legs, not your calves (ding ding ding, shin splints anyone?!)
-Focus your mind, practice body sensing, breathe, relax.
-Maintain good posture throughout your upper body, lower body, and pelvic tilt.
-Lean foward, this allows gravity to work FOR you, not against you
-Pick up your feet, limp lower legs, swing legs back
-Keep arms at 90 degrees, and swing them back
-When I practice loosening my lower legs by bending my knees and using my psoas muscles and core to pick up my legs I literally feel my lower legs releasing tension. My shin splints and leg pains have been greatly reduced, even while doing daily plyometrics!
-My times have increased without speed work. Not a lot, but enough, which is great because I wasn’t even trying to get faster persay. Leaning and maintaining good posture makes running faster easier!
-With a yoga background, I was already familiar with these principles, so they were easy to pick up, especially the breathing. I also think yoga makes you more in tune with your body, so I wasn’t freaked out by the introspective concepts, I actually really like them!
-I like his take on running. That it is more than just exercise, but can be a spiritual experience. Maybe he was gearing that more toward an Eastern philosophy, but I take the liberty of adapting that to my Christian walk, and ya know what? I think Danny Dreyer would be okay with that!
What I didn’t love…
-The nutrition part. Mostly because I don’t think one diet plan is THE ONE for everyone, and his certainly isn’t for me!! Only 3 meals a day, no snacking, no eating 3 hours before you run. NO thank you! He claims it isn’t awesome for your Chi, but I think starving would be less awesome for my chi!
-Some of his ways to incorporate the principles were a bit extreme. Like running with a metronome to gage your cadence. While I’m sure it’s effective, it’s not something I am going to do.
After all of that, I highly reccommend this book to runners. Especially to those dealing with injuries/weaknesses. Take what you like, what works, and leave the rest. This book is dense. I read it twice, and really wish I owned it to reference. I could read it several more times and still not have a mastery of Chi Running.
Has anyone else out there read it? What did you think?