Running Form and AHA Moments

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How long does it take to get it? I get this question all the time, and it is a difficult one to answer. In my own experience, I have “gotten it” several different times over the course of practicing my running form. We call these “AHA moments.” Those moments where everything clicks and you say “AHA, I got it!” These AHA moments add a tremendous amount of joy to my running practice. As in learning any skill, when things suddenly click, and your brain and body are synced up, magic begins to happen…

Like many others, I’ve experienced several AHA moments throughout my ChiRunning practice. I had several when I first read the book, and continue to have them during my running and walking practice. This is the beauty of ChiRunning, by practicing your running form you are constantly learning something about your body, your mind, and yourself.

AHA moments come in all forms and sizes. You might have a physical AHA moment, such as feeling gravity pull you forward, rather than using your legs to propel you. One of the more profound AHA moment s for me was an emotional one. It was my senior year of college. I was slowly transitioning from power running to ChiRunning. As I entered the championship part of the season I ran a continuous streak of PRs in the 10K. I had an emotional attachment to making the national meet, which requires you run a certain time to qualify. Through my ChiRunning practice I found that by NOT focusing on time, my race times improved DRAMATICALLY.

I ran 32:42, 32:20, 31:52 and 5 days after that 31:15. There was no recovery time needed from these races. The 31:15 was truly a magical race for me. Everything aligned and flowed smoothly that day. By focusing on my running form and not the clock, the entire race became one giant AHA moment. Even though I set a 37 second 10K PR, it wasn’t the time I was most happy with, it was the emotional feeling I had inside my body. I was happy and everybody close to me was happy. I was projecting pure joy and relaxation and that was being reflected back to me. Power running always left me feeling depleted and unfillfilled.  ChiRunning filled me with joy and happiness.  After that race it became very clear to me that pracitcing running form is a vehicle to integrate the mind and body.  To this day it remains one of the most profound AHA moments of my life.

That was in 2005. Close to 5 years later I’m still getting AHA moments. When I’m setting up a training plan for somebody and they ask me, “how long will it take to get it?” I explain to them that many people notice benefits as soon as they begin practicing their running form. You are likely to experience a few AHA moments as soon as you start running with the ChiRunning focuses in mind. If you continue to practice you will continue to grow, and your journey will be a series of one AHA moment after the next. You will “get it” as soon as you start running mindfully, but there is always more to learn, more to grow, more to see, and more to feel. The important thing is to enjoy the journey and not worry about the destination.


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