LONDON Build the Foundations

LONDON Build the Foundations

Improve your running technique, become more efficient in your movement, reduce your risk of injury and enjoy your practice! In this 1-day workshop you’ll learn the main elements of Chi Running through a series of fun exercises, drills, visualisations and practise. We’ll work on:

  • postural alignment, relaxation and balance
  • smooth transition from walk to run
  • the importance of the upper body and arm swing
  • optimal cadence (strides per minute)
  • increased speed through relaxation
  • mental focus and body awareness

You’ll learn how to develop your running skill and create a life-long programme for fitness, health and general well-being. Suitable for runners of all levels from complete beginners to seasoned marathoners and triathletes. Suitable for any age and level of fitness. Includes individual video observation.

MANCHESTER/BURY: Chi Running Build the Foundations

In this 1-day workshop you’ll learn the main elements of Chi Running through a series of fun exercises, drills, visualisations and practise. We’ll work on:

  • postural alignment, relaxation and balance
  • smooth transition from walk to run
  • the importance of the upper body and arm swing
  • optimal cadence (strides per minute)
  • increased speed through relaxation
  • mental focus and body awareness

You’ll learn how to develop your running skill and create a life-long programme for fitness, health and general well-being. Includes individual video observation.

LONDON Build the Foundations

LONDON Build the Foundations

In this 1-day workshop you’ll learn the main elements of Chi Running through a series of fun exercises, drills, visualisations and practise. We’ll work on:

  • postural alignment, relaxation and balance
  • smooth transition from walk to run
  • the importance of the upper body and arm swing
  • optimal cadence (strides per minute)
  • increased speed through relaxation
  • mental focus and body awareness

You’ll learn how to develop your running skill and create a life-long programme for fitness, health and general well-being. Includes individual video observation.

An Introduction to Chi Running

An Introduction to Chi Running

I want to start with a visualisation – You’re heading out for a run, it’s a beautiful day, as you begin to run you feel strong, focused and relaxed. Your arms, legs, breath are all in sync. You have found your rhythm as your heels float up behind you. You feel like you are gliding over the ground, your running feels effortless and fluid, your breath is rhythmic and you feel like you could keep running like this forever… this is Chi Running at its best!

This is Chi Running for me, and I hope it will be Chi Running for you. I was introduced to the Chi Running technique six years ago by Master Instructor, Catherina McKiernan, at her Building the Foundations Workshop. She just blew my mind, it all sounded so logical and I knew straight away this was how I wanted to run.

What exactly is Chi Running?

The main objectives of Chi Running are energy efficiency, injury prevention, and to ensure running is a joyful experience. Now doesn’t that sound good? I think it’s safe to say we all want to be happy, efficient, injury free runners.

Chi Running is running with minimal effort, therefore helping to eliminate the hardship you often hear associated with running. Doing something you love shouldn’t be a hardship and, in my opinion, all runners should love to run!

By following the core principles of the Chi Running technique, achieving these objectives is a realistic goal for everyone.
The Principles of Chi Running are:

  • alignment and relaxation
  • central movement
  • cooperating with force
  • gradual progress
  • body sensing
  • a mindful approach

I’m just going to briefly talk about each one.

Alignment & relaxation

Proper postural alignment is the starting point to correct running form, this in partnership with relaxation is central to efficient and injury free running. Your body needs to be properly aligned and relaxed as you run.

Chi Running is inspired by the T’ai Chi visualisation of a ‘needle in cotton’, where the needle is the central rotational axis – from the crown of the head through the centre of the body – and the cotton is the balanced, relaxed, fluid movement of the arms and legs and the shoulders and hips. Good postural alignment is so important for spine and joint mobility, this affects you in everyday life, not just while out running.

Central movement

This teaches us to begin any movement from the body’s centre of mass as opposed to pushing forward with your legs, our ‘centre’ in terms of T’ai Chi and Chi Running is called the dantien. This is located about three finger widths down from the belly button and two inches in towards your spine. Visualise moving forward from this point allowing the lower body to follow in a relaxed fashion, focusing on the gentle engagement of the lower abdominal muscles. This keeps you balanced and stable as you move forward. Focus on the contralateral movement of the arms and legs (opposite arm to leg), finding your optimal cadence (170-180 strides per minute). As you run visualise gathering energy in your centre (Dantien) and then allowing the Chi to flow throughout the body, creating an effortless, fluid running form.

Cooperating with Force

We want to work with, not against, the force of gravity and the oncoming road. Relax into your run, with a slight lean from your ankles. This allows you to cooperate with gravity and use the oncoming road to your advantage. Relax your legs as your feet come in contact with the earth, allowing them to swing rearwards and your heels float up behind you.

You are cooperating with the forces that so many runners fight against. Run in a controlled forward fall, creating and maintaining forward momentum.

Gradual Progress

If you find you need to adapt your current running form to become a Chi Runner then this is the most important Chi Running principle for you. These changes must be subtle and happen gradually, trust me, patience is a Chi Runner’s number one virtue, but it’s absolutely worth it!

Gradual progress means you build on the foundations of the Chi Running principles, practice Chi Running drills, allow your body to embrace the concept of the Needle in Cotton, and give it the time it deserves to progress.

As each step is completed it lays the foundations for the next. It’s a lifelong skill so not to be rushed. I’m still learning and will always be gradually adapting and tweaking my technique, subtle changes can make a huge difference to your running technique.

It’s also so important to understand that progress is an individual thing. If you start your Chi Running journey with a running buddy or buddies, you will all progress at different rates, we are all different so our gradual progression will vary from runner to runner. Make sure you focus on your own form, your own cadence and breath, it’s a personal thing but, of course, still to be enjoyed together.

Body Sensing

This may sound a bit airy fairy, but it’s actually very important to keep you in good physical and mental shape as a runner. Body sensing trains us to be intuitive runners, to sense when we have good alignment, optimal cadence, window of balance and so on. It’s also about being aware of how your body feels, throughout the day, not just while out running. The key is to regularly check in with your posture, sensing any niggles or muscle tightness, before they become an issue or injury. This, then becomes a habit, a way of life so you develop a strong sense of awareness of your body. This ties in very much so with a mindful approach to running.

Mindful Approach

This is one of my favourite aspects of Chi Running, my mind/body connection is definitely in sync when I run, I am more aware of my posture and this is because I bring all the chi focusses together. I live in the moment when I run, allowing the clutter to filter away for that brief time out on the road… I can breathe, I can focus, I can relax!

As I said at the start, you hear all the time, runners saying what a hardship running can be. Chi Running, in my opinion, is the opposite of a hardship, it’s a joy!

It may seem there is a lot to take in initially, but it all comes together gradually by practising the Chi Running drills, working on all the key elements of the technique, like posture, balance, breath and cadence.

Ultimately, the true beauty of Chi Running is its simplicity. When it all comes together you reap the massive benefits of being a Chi Runner. Let the Chi flow and your running will flow too.

Emer O'Brien

Emer O'Brien

Emer is one of our newest Chi Running instructors based in Piltown, Co. Kilkenny, Ireland. Check out Emer’s profile page for more information http://chirunning.uk/instructors/emer-obrien/

The Five Element Theory

The Five Element Theory

The five element theory

Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Space

In order to progress in Chi Running think in terms of the five elements found throughout Chinese philosophy. There are many variations but Chi Running uses earth, water, fire, air and space (or ether). Elements have their own distinct characteristics and are hierarchical in terms of density, earth being the most dense and space the least. Earth creates the stable foundation on which to build strength and refine the subtitles of your movement allowing power, fluidity and speed through unified mind and body.

Earth represents physical and emotional strength and stability

Earth represents physical and emotional strength and stability

Earth represents physical support and stability predominately from the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex. This is the foundational support that needs to be in place especially during the load and support phase of your stride. Restful sleep, relaxation and nourishing food restores the strength and quality of earth.

Water provides fluidity to motion. Your water band is located above the pelvis where your ‘water’ organs reside. It is often considered the ‘moving centre’ of the body. Water provides fluidity to motion (ROM). When you can sense controlled movement in this area your stride takes on a more fluid feel with less bounce and impact. It lends elasticity to skin, muscles and joints, and allows you to face obstacles with grace and pleasure.

Fire symbolises work and transformation. The fire band is above your water band and houses the hard working organs – heart, liver and lungs and muscles such as obliques and transversus abdominus. Fire adds ‘drive’ to your movement and also provides smooth and natural energy that can sustain activity over a long period of time and without strain. Fire keeps water from turning to ice, allows it to be wet and flow.

Air represents the power of breath, the mind and thoughts. Air represents inspiration in terms of breath and imagination. Air is an upward moving element. The key quality of air is movement and speed.

Space is container for other elements. Space is the whole body physically and energetically integrated, not just internally but with external environment and energies. Space has no beginning and no end. Makes space where things can happen. Space in the ribs allows lungs to expand. Space in head allow breath to pass. Anything is possible in space.

Incorporating these elements into your running will help to give structure to your practice.

 

Gray Caws
Director Chi Running UK & Ireland

 

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