Take the Work Out of Your Workouts

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It seems like many people are under the impression that the only way to become a better runner is to become a stronger runner. You know… no pain, no gain? ChiRunning is unique to most other training programs in that we use a mind-body approach, not just the purely physical approach. So, on those days when you don’t feel like pushing your body, you can still get a great workout by using your mind in a productive way. Here are four workouts that engage your mind and improve your running without challenging your body’s limits or requiring extra physical exertion. You can do these workouts at any pace that feels comfortable and still come away feeling like you just had a great workout.

1.  Nose breathing Workout: This workout improves your aerobic capacity, teaches you to become more efficient and relaxes your mind all at the same time. It’s easy… just shut your mouth and run. Belly breathe while you’re nose-breathing and it will help eliminate lactic acid, hyper-oxygenate your blood, and even increase your VO2 max (without killing yourself to do it). Breathe only through your nose until your body just has to take a deep breath through your mouth. Then, take three deep breaths through your mouth and start nose-breathing again. Do this for your entire run, no matter what. Eventually, you want to be able to breath deeply and evenly through your nose for your entire run.

2.  Cadence workout: Run with your metronome set at whatever cadence your body naturally moves at. As you begin your run make an agreement with yourself that you will match every single step to the metronome for the entirety of the run. This workout does a number of things. It teaches you to change your stride length as you go up or down hills (keeping you from overworking); it quiets your mind while building your ability to focus; and it undeniably strengthens your mind-body connection. Learn what a difference running with a metronome can make. 

3.  Focus Workout: Pick the top two focuses you feel you need to work on. Set your countdown timer for 2-minute intervals and alternate these focuses every two minutes for the whole run. Don’t worry about anything else you’re doing while running; just focus on what you’re doing for each 2-minute spell. Then, when you’ve got ten minutes left in your workout, do both focuses at the same time instead of alternating them.

4.     Y-chi Workout: This one is my favorite. From the first step of your workout, to the last, pick an object ahead of you and hold your eyes on it (without breaking your focus) until you reach the object. Then, pick another focus ahead of you and do the same. When you’re turning a corner you’ll have to change your “targets” at more frequent intervals. Allow your eyes to rest on the object of focus and allow your body to be pulled by your Y-chi toward your target, like you’re hooked to a big bungee cord. This workout is the most challenging to maintain, but leaves my mind clear, my heart centered, and my body incredibly relaxed.

These four workouts will make you a better runner than most strength-training workouts. And, you know what? You’ll probably also gain speed without any internal pressure to get faster.



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Posted in Technique

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