Tips from Certified Instructor of the Month Doug Dapo
For many years, my preferred way to unwind and recharge was running. I never used to take walking that seriously. If I went out to exercise, it was always to run. I even had a somewhat negative view of walking. During my runs, stopping to walk was almost considered as “taboo.” If I was moving with my feet, then I thought that the best use of my time and energy was to run. Walking was just something I did if I was not running. But when you stop and think about it, we spend a lot of time on our feet walking to get around. Since practicing ChiRunning, I have discovered what a treasure it is to practice ChiWalking. I am beginning to tap into some of the wonderful benefits of ChiWalking.
There are many similarities between ChiRunning and ChiWalking. For instance, learning good posture with alignment and relaxation, which is critical for efficient and injury- free movement in the body, is the foundation for both techniques.
I am beginning to realize that ChiRunning and ChiWalking greatly complement each other. When you're not ChiRunning, ChiWalking can give you a wonderful cross-training experience to enhance your fitness program. ChiWalking is also a great way to transition into running, or get back into shape before you're ready to get started running.
Sometimes after a long day at work when I go out running, I feel like my body is not quite ready to get moving. I really like transitioning into running by practicing my ChiWalking first. This is so relaxing. I will use my metronome and set it for a slow strolling pace. After I feel warmed up, I will increase my cadence to a medium-paced walk. All the while, I am listening to my body, letting go of the day, enjoying the scenery around me, breathing and moving with alignment and relaxation. When my body feels ready, I will go into a fast-paced walk. I love the feeling that as my foot lands, the ground helps to pull my leg out the back and at the same time my leg pulls my hip back. I feel like I am gliding along the surface of the ground. Here, I can feel my pelvic rotation, which is so therapeutic. I can feel my lower back relaxing with the fluid motion of the discs in my lower spine cooperating with the rotation of my hips. Because ChiWalking moves at a slower pace than ChiRunning, I am better able to feel my pelvic rotation when practicing ChiWalking. I memorize this feeling of my pelvic rotation when I walk and then I try to feel it again and allow it to happen when I run.
At the pain-free ChiRunning Workshop at the Omega Institute, Danny Dreyer shared with us what his master Tai’ Chi Instructor said, which was when you stop moving your spine, you begin to die. Wow, how important it is to keep our spine fluid and relaxed and moving! I am experiencing that an excellent way to keep my spine moving is with ChiWalking.
Well, there I am enjoying my ChiWalking experience so much that before I realize it thirty minutes have gone by and I haven’t even started my run yet. This is OK because when I am ChiWalking, I am practicing a lot of the same focuses that will help me when I run. Now, walking for me is not just something I do if I am not running. I am walking with purpose and intent by practicing my ChiWalking focuses. My ChiWalking and ChiRunning go hand in hand. One helps the other. For this reason, I have been recommending that if you want to improve your ChiRunning technique, then practice ChiWalking!