Tuning our instrument - Chi Running

Tuning our instrument

Posted by Nick Constantine on Thu Apr 19th, 2012, No comments (be the first!)

One of the analogies I use when teaching Chi Running is the idea that we are musical instruments that need tuning up. In particular, I focus on the principle that we are stringed instruments and that the quality of the sound produced is linked to the construct of the instrument and how you play it. This idea helps people appreciate that we are all in need of aligning, and the wind (our breath) is the key to the sound their instrument makes.

This helps a lot of people who approach form analysis in a heavy handed manner. That is, they would like instant or quick results after the session. The instrument analogy is a strong one because it allows the principle of practice and mastery to be understood. When you first begin playing an instrument, one can feel clumsy and a little out of sorts. "Getting it" takes time and, although we would love to play fast pieces of music, there is a deep understanding that practice makes perfect. Running in my mind is no different from any other skill. As you understand your instrument, alignment and breath you will get the best out of it. Even as we get older your will simply sound different. Not as fast, but perhaps more graceful, thoughtful and at peace with the simplest of activities.

This analogy helps further when developing the idea of practising with control and the common error of aiming too high for speed and impressive short times early in the development of mastery when of course all good musicians would say learn to play slowly and well and only increase your speed when you have mastered the basics. This is true of many many things in life not only music and running.

The best recreational activities are the ones that can help us become a more focused, compassionate individual who grows and becomes more sensitive to the needs of others and is much more in tune with what the present can give. They also impact on how we interact in other areas of our lives. In a study at Southern Illinois University it was concluded that individuals experiencing leisure activities to the fullest have:

• A feeling of freedom
• Total absorption in the activity at hand
• Lack or focus on self
• Enhanced perception of objects and events
• Little Awareness of the passage of time
• Increased sensitivity to body sensations
• Increased sensitivity to emotions

So by using the metaphor of an instrument that requires constant tuning and developing a mastery by practice we can see that really we are approaching a deeper state of awareness in ourselves. In gaining mastery of ourselves we must have the correct effort, complete focus and a deep calm resonant state to perform at our best.  

Resources to help you master the Chi Running basics:

Chi Running Book: A Revolutionary Approach to Effortless Injury-Free Running
Chi Running DVD: A Revolutionary Approach to Effortless Injury-Free Running



  • running as a practice,
  • body sensing,
  • alignment

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