Running and Resting in Alignment
Running in 2011 has been a year of learning an important lesson – gradual progress. Early in the year, I slipped on an icy bench, slamming the inside of the knee. After many months of off and on running, and guessing the running injury, an MRI showed a meniscus tear and Baker's cyst. It's been two steps forward, and one step back, but as the running injury continues to heal, I have become even more aware of the importance of good alignment in running tehcnique, walking technique, and daily life. I used to walk for a warm up, then run, focusing on different aspects of the ChiRunning technique (including alignment.) After the accident, any lapse in alignment would show up in my knee, and sometimes stop me in my tracks. Obviously, this healing calls for gradual progress, and that’s where the walk-run comes in, especially when done using the ChiRunning technique and ChiWalking technique. The newly released Chi Walk-Run DVD has given me a good ‘muse’ for incorporating walk-runs into my workouts.
On my first run of the year, I started with a walk down to the bike trail, and after feeling warmed up, I increased my cadence til I broke into a gentle run, settling into a cadence of 180. A few minutes into the run, I felt one very tiny niggle in my knee, so I slowed to a walk, checking my alignment during transition. As I walked, my main focus was on engaging my low abs, as if I was sitting up and taking notice. The 'sit up in your chair' exercise demonstrated in the Chi Walk-Run DVD helps to feel what this feels like. I also maintained a still upper body, allowing my arm swing to help stabilize it. When I transitioned into my run, the focus shifted more to a nice tall spine, as if a balloon were attached to the crown of my head. This focus helps keep me light on my feet as it provides a force in the opposite direction of my footfall.
I continued this back and forth transition between running and walking, listening very carefully to my body, and checking alignment. In some ways, it reminded me of doing a yoga pose once, then going back into it a little deeper, as the muscles warm up and become less tense. Each running period felt easier and the time lasted longer. At the end, my knee felt great and I felt like I got some quality movement in, following the law of gradual progress and resting in alignment. I'll continue to follow the pain-free Chi Walk-Run program and pay attention to my alignment throughout my day. I know my knee will thank me for that. Happy new year to you all!