My last Chi-running post about using your core. I promise the core exercises are on their way but today I am going to talk a little about your legs and what they’re doing while your core is engaged. The idea is that your legs do as little as possible. It seems counter-intuitive but it will make running so much more enjoyable for you!
In Tai-Chi, were many of the Chi-Running principles come from, every movement must have a balance movement in the opposite direction. The principle of Balance says that if one part of your body is moving forward, there needs to be another part moving rearward to balance it. Chi Running advocates a slight lean from the ankles, which allows for your upper body to use the force of gravity and move forward. As your upper body is “falling” forward with gravity, your lower body is responsible for providing the balance by moving in a rearward direction and cooperation with the force of the road coming at you.
I know, it all seems a little “chi-like”—how can your feet possibly move backwards when your running forwards? Here are the practical implications: getting your feet to move in a circular motion where they are landing slightly behind you rather than in front, will promote a mid-foot strike and protect you from yucky knee, hip, and ITB problems.
For me, it’s a matter of visualizing what that looks like. Once I have an image in my head, it becomes a little easier to execute. The two examples the Dreyers give in the book are “The Wheel” and “The Bicycle.”
- The Wheel: Imagine yourself in a big wheel. The top of the wheel (your head) is moving forward and the back of the wheel (your feet) are moving to the rear as your roll down the road.
- The Bicycle: Imagine your toes are clipped into your bicycle pedals. Move your legs in a circular motion as you would pedaling your bike.
When I run, I try to image I’m on egg shells. I want the impact between my feet and the ground to be as soft as possible and I want my precious tootsies to get off the ground quickly. No lingering feet. As I’m doing this, I imagine I’m gently pushing the egg shells backwards with my feet.
It takes some time to get use to and it might feel a little awkward at first, especially if your use to taking big ol’ strides. Be patient with yourself, have fun, and pretend you’re Road Runner escaping the silly coyote.