Running is all about Form — and Gradual Progress - Chi Running

Running is all about Form — and Gradual Progress

Posted by Elizabeth Frost on Wed Jun 10th, 2009, 4 comments

I think of Gradual Progress as the framework around which ChiRunning can be learned. One step at a time, things should be incrementally and fully learned before moving on to the next step. It’s not the only way to think about ChiRunning form, but for me, is an important one.

As you’ve read in my blog, my knee has been bugging me and I have tried to work through it to see what would help and what I was doing incorrectly. Because the condition of my knee (and even more so, the condition of my form) has not improved, I have been disappointed and embarrassed to blog about it. I can walk the talk, but it’s going to take some deeper more mindful work.  Here’s what I think happened:

My training regularity from August ’08 through the race day in January ’09 was dedicated and mindful. I worked hard on my form, and did decently well, but when it came to race day, I had (and still have) leagues of room to improve. While I do think that I went a little hard during the last couple of miles without keeping my form together (eg, I was taking longer strides, but in hindsight, don’t think I was keeping my core engaged/pelvis level), it has been the months since the race when my own running form has been the problem, not the race.

Danny’s been using the term “feel what it feels like” a lot lately, and it’s the perfect little phrase to continually remind me I need to get into my body, every chance I can. It’s 6 months after the race and my knee hasn’t gotten any better. I want to get better and stay better, I don’t want to have knee issues again.

I will be using Gradual Progress for real as I take the time to learn again. Thank goodness I know about ChiRunning. It will guide me through this process, through beginning to run again mindfully, and through my daily activities. Thank goodness for ChiLiving, a business that does so much good for people and encourages us all to go deep.

Katherine and Danny wrote a great article recently about teaching and letting your mind and body really communicate. I am going to read it again myself: Mind over Body vs Body over Mind (June 2009).



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4 CommentsLeave a comment below

I enjoy your posts and have been wondering what’s up. I have been through the same thing except for me it was my ankle and not my knee. I ran my very first half on an injured ankle and, in fact, the six months prior training on it too. Needless to say I had to take about a month and a half off and let it heal. It was hard as I felt like you do and I wanted to run. But looking back it’s been a learning experience and, in all honesty, my running is probably better now because of it. But I am running and you will get there too. You’ll probably find an appreciation for the whole experience!!! Best wishes to you and I will be checking in to see how your doing!

Get well soon Liz!!


Hi Liz, I too, am on a running journey dealing with injury.  I ran a marathon in 2007 (my 3rd in my 50’s) and felt fine but then took some months off running to help care for my newborn grandson.  Last October I started running in place with my Wii and jumping rope… and I developed knee problems.  My MD diagnosed tendinitis complicated by osteoarthritis and the physical therapist he sent me to told me I should never run again.  It has been 9 months, I’m still in pain and depressed. I keep trying to tell myself that I will run again.  I am wondering if I should try Chi Walking.  As long as I don’t do hills and stairs, I can still walk a bit.

Laura Houston Jun 18th, 2009 10:43am

This made me smile. I’ve fought my own battles over the last two years as well. Soon after my first ultra, I had to have a bilateral ovarianectomy to rule out ovarian cancer. (it was normal) This was an ‘interruption’ to the core strength I’d worked so hard to develop but I came back and within 6 months did three ultras in three months. I was going to try a 50 miler, but at the same time was experiencing adhesions, and with no estrogen, muscle mass does not develop as fast. But I hung with my training buddies and soon a tear in my right labrum (hip socket) put a kibosh in the 50 miler training plan. Two rules here were broken - gradual progress and nonidentity. Coming back has been much slower and sometimes one step forward followed by one step back. My work is to follow those two tenets (grad. progress and nonidentity) and let my body tell me where it’s at, and meet it there. This is regardless of what my friends (and I) think I SHOULD be doing.

Good luck with your knee - it will get better. Just another one of life’s lessons on the road. So good that you have the tools to pay attention! Cant wait to meet you in person!

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