Understanding ChiWalking makes a great ChiRunner

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Hi Mary (Certified Master Instructor),
I just received all my instructor materials a couple of days ago. I started reading ChiWalking hoping I wouldn’t fall asleep reading the book, but I stuck with it and read the focuses again, the 5 Mindful Steps for ChiWalking, etc., and I have begun to realize that a sound understanding of the principles of ChiWalking are what will make a great Chi Runner.

I’ve really been running and water skiing hard in the last few weeks, and my body needed a day off, so today I decided to do a walk instead of having a complete rest day. I couldn’t believe I had decided to do it – walking was just so simple and slow and beneath a runner!! I started with all the steps outlined in the book and did the posture lesson that I watched Danny do on video. I thought I’d walk maybe 30 minutes because I’d get bored, but ended up doing 45. It was fantastic! I never thought I would enjoy walking so much, but when you’re doing it mindfully and fully body sensing, the relaxation of the mind and body is complete, not to mention the sense of knowing how good it feels and how right it is.

The focuses of pelvic rotation, limp lower legs, lifting the legs, lean and cadence were amplified in my mind. Perhaps because the intensity of the movement was less and simple, I was able to body sense the focuses much easier than when running. I could concentrate on that right foot of mine which has a mind of its own in wanting to splay out, dorsiflex and remain tense throughout my stride (that change has been huge for me – I have not had any medial right knee pain for over a month)! Usually I start getting that pain when my mileage/hours goes up. Now I’m running close to 25 to 30 miles – 8 to 10 hours per week without any pain at all!

The best part was that I knew for the first time in my life that I was walking correctly. A short, consistent stride length and a change in cadence was all I needed. I never felt tight, and when I did feel some tightness in my calves walking up a hill, I realized that I was leaning too much. Checked in with my posture, my core, pulled my lean back, increased my cadence and voila… tension gone, speed increased, sailed up the hill!  Just like my running aha moments! It was cool! Got back to the house thinking how good I felt, relaxed yet energized and vital.

I have concluded that ChiWalking is a great thing to do on a rest day! It is also the foundation of ChiRunning, and learning posture, lean, upper and lower legs, cadence/gears and stride.

Happy trails!