Speed with Ease: Why We Teach ChiRunning From Scratch
Danny can’t tell you how many people come up to him at ChiRunning classes, telling him, “I just want to get faster.” He agrees. It’s great to get faster. Speed can be exhilarating, inspiring, and definitely lots of fun. But if your speed isn’t grounded in a base of proper technique, it can easily turn into a trade-off between speed and injury. It can also be a lot more work to run faster if you’re not an efficient runner. In Danny’s longtime practice of T’ai Chi he’s learned that speed never comes from force… it comes from relaxation.
In ChiRunning, we are dedicated to an approach that replaces force with flow – using the natural strength and poise of the body to create “speed with ease.” This is why we start every runner, regardless of their level of expertise, from scratch. Building good running form from the “ground up” is much easier than trying to identify and undo troublesome movement habits. So, we start with the basics of structural support, and then add in fluidity and range of motion. We then top it off with a propulsion system that directs the workload away from the legs… quite the contrary to the conventional wisdom of pushing harder to get faster.
We don’t discourage focusing on speed in ChiRunning Workshops, but we do our best to delay the focus on speed until your technique can support that speed safely and efficiently. Technique should always come before speed and that’s where to start if you want to gain truly natural speed. We also encourage you to first work on what slows you down before adding in strength and speed training.
We start everybody off with practicing the cornerstones of speed: postural alignment and the basic fundamentals of efficient movement. The reason is, without good posture, you cannot benefit from the slight forward lean that engages the assistance of gravity and helps you run without force, power or sole reliance on your legs for propulsion.
Speed needs to be layered on top of good technique and it doesn’t pay to skip steps in this progression. One of the most exciting things about ChiRunning is that anyone can learn to run faster, but in an easier and less harmful way.
It often happens that seasoned athletes come to a Level I ChiRunning class hoping to get faster. And they DO. But, what surprises them is when we redirect that focus by showing them that in order to have speed, you need to first “create the conditions for speed to happen.” You can’t force it.
We teach that the exhilaration of speed can be had by anyone willing to approach speed through building technique from the ground up, first.
Then, once your technique has flow and efficiency, you need only add a very small amount of well-placed strength to create lots of speed… with lots of ease.
To learn more, find a Workshop near you here. Later this Spring we’ll be introducing the ChiRunning Performance Series… a set of 8 classes designed specifically for those of you looking to up your ChiRunning game.