Distance Running with Chi Running – Live Long and Prosper

Posted by Katherine Dreyer on Tue Apr 7th, 2009, No comments (be the first!)

With Chi Running, distance running — whether a 5k, half marathon, marathon or ultra-marathon — is a pain-free, core-strengthening and deeply relaxing process that you can enjoy for a lifetime. And the health benefits of distance running may just increase the length and quality of your life as well!

The myth is that distance running (anything over one mile or a distance that you wouldn't sprint) is what causes injury and pain. Chi Running puts that myth to sleep by teaching you to run longer distances by following a training program that is based on a simple, three-step Chi Running Formula: Technique first, then Distance, then Speed.

Technique first means focusing on good running technique, which is at the heart of Chi Running. In power running, you are led to believe that distance running is based on building strong muscles, that preventing injury is based on building strong muscles, that speed is based on building strong muscles. The only truth in this is that building strong core muscles is important for distance running, but the focus on the rest of your body should be relaxation — getting loose, softening that which is rigid or stiff.

Try it right now. Feel where you feel tension and take three deep breaths focusing on that spot, with the intention of getting circulation into that tight spot. Ahhh … feel that tension drip out of you.

You can learn the Chi Running form on the Chi Running DVD and book or by attending a workshop with a Certified Chi Running Instructor.

One of the main differences between power running and Chi Running is relaxation of all muscles except your core muscles. If you let them, your core muscles can do the job all those other tense muscles are trying, but failing to do, which is to keep you in alignment. When you work and use your core muscles for that job, your other muscles get to do what they should be doing: responding with flexibility and grace to the needs of the moment.

Running Pain from Distance Running – It’s a Myth
Whether your goal it to complete your first 5k or your 10th marathon, when you follow the three-step Chi Running Formula for success, and focus on Technique first, you are setting yourself up for a lifetime of health and well-being. Distance running does not cause running pain. Poor technique does. Injury, pain and hitting the wall can happen at mile two as well as mile 18, if you do not have a solid foundation of good running technique.

What distance running does create is great health in your body. It is worth running longer distances because of the enormous health benefits. This does not mean you have to run more than three miles four times a week, or more than the 60 miles you are already running per week. What is very good for you is to have one run, each week, that is longer, and slower than your other runs. We call it the Long Run.

How often do you really practice being relaxed? The Long Run is your weekly practice of being centered and relaxed. To train for distance running of any length, you want to make sure you have one Long Run per week, where you really focus on keeping that great posture that is the basis of the Chi Running technique, and where you run more slowly than you usually run. Yes, slower, and deeply relaxed. The long run is where you truly learn what a strong core and deep, deep relaxation is all about. You may come back from your long run more centered and relaxed and focused than you are all week long. That is when you know you have been successful.

On the physical side, the long run helps you build your endurance by triggering your circulatory system to create new capillaries, tiny blood vessels within your muscles and other tissues that bring nutrients and oxygen to more cells within your body. The cells themselves will then respond by building more mitochondria, little power factories that produce usable fuel for your muscles.

Another important benefit of running long at a slower pace is that it teaches your body to rely more on your fat stores for fuel, which are almost unlimited, and less on the carbohydrate sources stored in your muscles, which are very limited  and last only about 40 minutes if not replaced.

Breath rate and Distance running
Another benefit of the Long Run and distance running is that you learn to breathe in a way that is also deeply relaxing and beneficial. Shallow breathing (running fast) increases your breath rate which activates the sympathetic survival instinct “fight or flight” response, which stimulates stress receptors in the chest and increases the heart rate. This triggers the release of the stress hormones coritsol and adrenaline, causes the body to burn blood sugar and store fat, raises blood pressure as a result of lower oxygentation rates, which ultimately overload the adrenal glands.

Diaphragmatic breathing, (slower running) on the other hand, draws breath into the lower lobes of the lungs where the oxygen-rich cells reside, thereby stimulating the body’s parasympathetic response. As a result, the body releases a beneficial cocktail of hormones, namely seretonin and beta-endorphin, lowers heart rates and blood pressure, improves circulation and produces an overall calming effect and feeling of well-being.

5K, 10K, Half marathon and Marathon Training
It does not matter what distance you choose. When you learn the Chi Running technique and use your Long Run to train your mind and your body to be focused and relaxed it is a discipline that will allow you to accomplish any goal that you set yourself.  Focus on your core, relax all else. Keep your self centered, and be responsive to anything that comes your way. Take it slowly and stay in there for the long haul. These are key principles to any successful process.

If you are training for an event, you will become so sure of yourself and your ability to finish that half marathon, or 50 mile ultra marathon, or your first 10K, that the event itself will be a celebration of good training and of a healthy body, not a measure of how much pain and stress you can endure.

When you practice distance running with your Long Run every week, these principles become  a part of you and help you to live long, and truly prosper.

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A Chi Running Love Letter

I picked up your book 2 months ago. My wife saw you on CNN. I stopped running 15 years ago due to tendonitis in my left leg. 

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