Re-reading Chi Running Again

I just finished re-reading Chi Running again. This is the third time I have read it and each time I do, I come away having learned a little more about what the author is teaching in his book.

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The first time I read Chi Running by Danny Dreyer was back in 2011 and then again in 2017. In 2011 I was seriously looking at how I could improve how I ran (change my running form) and the second I was coming off a series of injuries that I couldn’t figure out. So why the third time? Another injury that just will not seem to completely go away after more than five months and with the pandemic going on around me, I have time to really take a look at my running again.

When I want to step back for a minute and re-evaluate my running, I go back to re-reading many of the different running books in my bookshelf. Those books provide me with different insights into running and how others who know more about it than I do view improving how we run.

While I am not a disciple of Chi Running or really any other “you gotta run this way” method of running. However, I do find that many of the ideas about many of Dreyer’s good running form philosophies and the mind/body connection of running resonate with how I look at my running.

While some scoff at Chi Running and how it claims to improve your running, I have found that if you look closely at many of the recommendations made, it does follow many universal tenants of good running form in the running world.

After re-reading the book this time, it reminded me to get back to doing the little things that help me maintain better form management:

  • improved running posture (run tall, how to hold your arms, running with all parts of the body going in the same direction, etc.)
  • use your core
  • a slight lean
  • a shorter stride where you land under your hips
  • increased stride rate/cadence (this is the one that I may have the most reservations about from the way that I run and what works for me)
  • increase speed or mileage slowly
  • use a variety of training runs and terrains to achieve your goals

The Good?

In my most recent delving into Chi Running my biggest lesson was it is the little things that matter. Those things that I tend t take for granted and don’t think about when I am out running but can have huge impacts on how well I run.

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  1. When I am out running focus more on my running versus wool-gathering and distracting myself from what I am doing. That stay in the moment thing and pay attention to what my body is telling me.
  2. Relax my legs and think about where my aches or pains are and focus on attempting to relax those areas in different ways while running to see if any of the changes help and if they do focus more on keeping that feeling.
  3. Focus on looking ahead at something versus at the ground in front of me. I do tend to look about 10 feet in front of me and hunch my shoulders when I am doing that. When I focus on an object down the road, I find that I run taller and keep my chin up.

Along with many of the same issues that I wrote about in my 2011 and 2017 blog posts.

The Bad?

I seem to be able to stay with Chi Running for about a month or two and then my focus on improving my running form wanes as the body improves how it is feeling – then injuries seem to be less of an issue. Then I slowly slip back into the old comfortable habits that tend to eventually result in injuries and more aches and pains, until the next time I start re-reading my running books again.

What was I thinking?

That my running form is still pretty close to the one I had back in 2011. In other words not great or even good form by any stretch of the imagination. I probably don’t pound my heels quite as much, keep my arms in a little tighter and the duck walk is less than 45 degrees, but I am willing to bet if you compared the videos that I took back in 2012 and took one of me now the changes would not be all that apparent.

People can still tell from quite a distance that it is me running in my unique Harold the Destroyer running form. 😉

About the only thing that changes after reading Chi Running is that I get a bit more efficient for a time and that I am reminded to focus on the little things more that make a difference for me to run better…well maybe a little.

Unfortunately, either I am too lazy to actually incorporate the Chi Running philosophy into my running or the old body has a certain way of running and since I am in the 6th decade of life, it ain’t gonna change things too drastically anytime soon.

Either way, every so often I have a feeling that I will be bringing out the Chi Running book just for the gentle reminders in it about how the little things matter in running more than we want to admit.

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