Chi Running, like barefoot running, advocates that you run from your core. This doesn’t mean you slide around on your belly like a penguin (haha, get it, “running from your core”?). It means that the main muscles at work while you’re running (or walking) are the muscles that comprise your core. Say what? But what about my legs? Once you learn to run from your core, your legs will just kind of come along for the ride. This is something I still have to remind myself of on every run–usually about every 5 minutes. When I start to get tired and distracted by my tiredness, I find myself doing this horrible little trot with my legs working way harder than they should be. When I’m snapped back to my body, I realize I’ve let my core go loose and my legs are picking up the slack. The moment I engage my core, I instantly feel some of the pressure come off my legs and I’m ready to rock.
First, lets talk about what and where the core is. Many associate having a strong core with having a flat stomach/6 pack. But the core is so much more than the abdominal muscles. The core also includes your back muscles, glutes, pelvic floor, and hips. Uh-oh… crunches aren’t going to cut it. It’s your center–where all the action is coming from when your at your best.
A great way to learn how to engage your core while your running is to practice while you’re not running. Here’s how I do this: I put my hand about three finger width below my belly button and I image that all the energy in my body is flowing into that very spot. This energy flow is what some call “Chi” or “qi”. Call it what you wish, using this energy to propel your body in to action is invaluable.
Along with doing this very simple visualization exercise, a regular core strengthening regime will go a long way in improving your running and your overall health (and maybe you’ll get a flat tummy as bonus!). Like I said, traditional crunches aren’t really going to cut it if you want to develop a powerhouse core that will keep you healthy, happy, and active into old age. Later this week I’ll write up a description of my core routine as a place to get started. Until then, visualize your chi flowing below your belly button!
Do you have any core strengthening tricks? Please share!