Running Painfree With My Bag O’ Tricks
I’m always amazed and grateful at the tools that ChiRunning has given me to make my running a more pleasant experience. And I’m even happier when I can share them with a running partner, and see the beneficial effects almost immediately, while we are running. I was running the other day with some friends who are training for some long distance trails runs. They’ve been putting in a lot more miles than me, and they both were commenting on various aches and tired spots that were coming up. I can empathize as I have been there too.
One issue was ankle related. We had been running up a pretty long hill, and my friend would occasionally say “Ow!” – not a good sign. Her ankle would twitch now and then. Since we had been running on this rolling course for a while, I thought maybe her calves might be tightening up. I suggested she shorten her stride length and peel her foot up while she was running, really allowing the ankle to relax and the foot go floppy. Within a minute she reported that the ankle had calmed down and she was able to run without pain. She stayed on top of it by body sensing a relaxed ankle, and if her mind strayed (we chatted a lot) she knew what to do if the ankle twitched. We were able to finish the run painfree. The added benefit (for me) is I was reminded myself to keep my lower legs relaxed, and after twelve miles of rolling terrain, I felt fresh, almost like I had just started. Only the salt on my face gave it away!
Another favorite trick I use when running is the C shape. With this one, I can level my pelvis and lengthen my spine, all in one move. It’s a great way to hit the “running refresher button” as it opens up all the channels for the chi to flow. I have a tendency to let my head fall back if I get really tired, and coming back to that C shape brings it all back into line. I also like to practice this one while I am driving, by setting my rearview mirror up a little, so I have to crane my neck to see in it. This gives my body a reminder to feel what it feels like to have a nice long spine, and makes it feel more natural when I apply it in my running.
These ‘tricks’ and more (also know as form focuses) are outlined in the ChiRunning book (p. 117), as well as how to use them (Ch. 5). If there is an instructor in your area, a good way to learn some tricks is to take a workshop or lesson from them. You’ll learn a lot of the tricks throughout the lesson, and your instructor will guide you through a practice run using them. As you become more familiar with them, you’ll come to appreciate the bag o’ tricks to take on your runs. I know I do!