Running through Winter Weather With Chi Walk-Run
I just finished reading the most recent running blog by Danny Dreyer, founder of ChiRunning, as he colorfully described one way he personally handled running in some challenging winter weather in Asheville, NC: by doing his running workout indoors. This can be a great alternative to Winter running outside, but there is another option I’d like to present today, namely to add Chi Walk-Run to your pain-free running regimen.
When there is snow on the ground, or ice for that matter, the ChiRunning tehcnique can still be a very effective way to safely do your running workout. Having an aligned posture with your relaxed legs swinging behind you, and with your foot placement under your body definitely helps you to stay on your feet, no matter what the footing. There may be some Winter conditions, however, when even the ChiRunning technique might not be enough to comfortably deal with the snow, ice and rain and that is where Chi Walk-Run comes into the picture. As a complement to ChiRunning, Chi Walk-Run brings another level of stability into the picture by offering the runner the option of gearing down to a whole different mode of motion which, by its very nature, i.e., always having one foot in contact with the ground, provides another degree of stability on uncertain terrain.
I have found that switching to ChiWalking from ChiRunning at certain times during Winter running can be invaluable. Obvious examples involve hills: for example, running down a slippery hill can be treacherous but with a quick adjustment to ChiWalking, I once again have solid footing with a midfoot strike and away I go. Likewise, when running up a hill, slippery footing is a common occurrence; switch to ChiWalking, and up I go. But even on level ground, I often switch back and forth from ChiRunning to ChiWalking when Winter weather is a challenge. For me, having the safe and stable footing that ChiWalking provides me leads to more confident and relaxed movement.
As I described in an earlier Chi Walk-Run blog, the transition from walking to running and vice versa can be smooth and quick and that is true no matter what the weather. After checking your form and your surroundings (self- monitoring and general awareness are key to effective Winter running and walking), and assuming you are ChiRunning, it is a simple matter to switch to ChiWalking: just reduce your lean and your cadence slightly until you are into the ChiWalking form. When the footing so merits, a return to the ChiRunning technique merely requires a gradual increase in cadence and lean until you are ChiRunning again. The only difference from running in more comfortable conditions is the increased importance of being aware of the weather and the conditions of your running terrain. Ice, snow or heavy rain? Dress for the Wintery weather then give Chi Walk-Run a try. You’re sure to survive it and enjoy it!