Effortless Running Refresher
This morning we held our monthly ChiRunning technique refresher. Summer finally arrived in Seattle and motivated a couple of past students to come out and refresh their ChiRunning technique skills. After a brief check-in, addressing any issues or questions that come up, we went through the Body Looseners, and prepared to start running. Our running route is a 3 mile loop, but we tell people they have an option to turn back at any time. This morning I did a couple of things different.
In the past, I have used the metronome at a slower beat than what I am used to, trying to match an ‘average’ beat of about 85 (I run at 90 bpm). I have always instructed clients to meet their body where it’s at and start with a cadence that they are running at, increasing one beat per week until they are in the 85-90 bpm range. One of the clients already ran at 90 bpm, and the other ran at 85, but he wanted to see how 90 would feel. Instead of setting it at 90 bpm, I set it at 180, so that there was a beat for each foot landing. I told him if it felt uncomfortable, to let me know and I would slow it down. It should be noted that this client hadn’t been running much since last fall, only going about a mile at most.
The other thing I did was incorporate a focus I learned at the instructor training workshop last May in Chicago. As you lean to fall with the pull of gravity, feel your shoulders over your toes, just before you pick up your feet. This focus gives one a feeling of that nice straight column that is leaning into the pull of gravity.
We started off running in a very easy first gear, and focused mainly on posture and the cadence, using the arm swing to match the beat. By about mile one, we were running in sync, and the 1 mile runner said he was feeling great. He had no problem with the increased cadence, and feeling every beat made a difference. Without noticing it, soon we were running in second gear, still in lock step with one another. Occasionally, I would remind them of something, like feeling the shoulders over the toes, feeling the circular motion of the heels and elbows, or using their Y’chi (focusing the eyes on one spot in the distance). But mostly we just ran. As we came to the end of our loop, the 1 mile runner said he was surprised how easy that was. He pointed out having others in step beside him was helpful, as it provided a visual cue. Hearing (and feeling) the metronome added to that ease. It was a great refresher and a great reminder of how effortless running can happen when you get ‘yourself’ out of the way!