Using ChiRunning principles to help navigate slippery rocks and leaves

« Go Back

As you’ll see from the photo on the November newsletter, Asheville is ablaze with color. As the leaves fall to the ground, they bring the color to our feet… combine the leaves with rain, however, and you get a somewhat treacherous path.

We took Oliver for a hike yesterday in the drizzling rain. We went up the Blue Ridge Parkway to a nice area of the mountains. We encountered other dogs along the way, which is always fun to watch: they tear up and down the path, apparently oblivious to rocks, black mud, slippery leaves and steep drop offs. Ah, the joys of being on the trail!

I discovered something about shoes: I tend to wear the NB 790s all the time when I hike or run. Yesterday, because of the rain, I chose to wear a different pair, a cross between a hiking boot and a running shoe. They’re very comfortable, but have a much thicker bottom than the 790s. I found myself moving much more slowly than I normally do, somewhat terrified of falling down the slippery slopes. To counteract the “negative” effect my shoes were having on my mobility, I focused on a few simple things:

  • Small steps, making sure to land on a solid piece of ground, with as much of my foot as possible.
  • Keeping my core engaged. The more I kept my core engaged, the more I was able to maintain balance and center my hips over my feet, to prevent slipping.
  • Kept my eyes alternately looking up and forward (Y’chi) and keeping my eyes on the ground, watching where my feet should go.
  • Limp lower legs: it sounds difficult to do on a slippery surfaces, but the more I kept my core engaged, and trusted my balance and foot placement, the less I needed to effort with my legs. So especially when traveling uphills, I just tried to imagine that my leg muscles weren’t engaging. Like if I had a pair of magical muscle-watching goggles, I wouldn’t see any shift in effort in my leg muscles as we walked uphill along rocks and roots and leaves.

Of course, I also had to keep my knees a bit soft as Oliver loves to tear around the trail and I didn’t want to get clipped and end up on my rear-end… What fun to watch him! It’s so inspiring to see my dog run, as Danny has mentioned about running with Mei Ling. There is so much joy that comes from moving freely.

Go out there and move happily and freely. There are very few other feelings quite as liberating.

Oliver trodding happily on the leaf-covered ground.

Oliver trodding happily on the leaf-covered ground.


Posted in Technique

Related Articles