Thursday, November 15, 2012

Chi Running Lesson 2 – Stop trying to defy gravity!

Lesson 2 is learning to lean into your run.  Per the authors, leaning allows gravity to pull you forward.  Then, as you fall forward, the rearward force of the road pulls your support leg out behind you, allowing your leading foot to land under your center of mass to catch you from falling.  This leg then becomes the support leg and the process starts again.

Two forces – the force of gravity and the force of the road – collaborating to make me run more efficiently instead of conspiring to injure my feet and legs?  This sounds good. 

With column alignment in place, the way to start the lean is to focus on the bottoms of your feet, which should be hitting at the bottom of your column.  Then let the whole column fall, ever so slightly, in front of where your feet are hitting.

Today’s run was 5.5 miles.  I practiced running with a straight column and feeling my feet directly underneath, then tried the lean.  Just letting myself fall didn't work for me; I had to point my shoulders into the lean.  I immediately noticed that my stride had lengthened and was slightly behind my column.  I alternated the slight lean and running straight up several times along the course; pulling myself into the “C” shape each time I straightened up.  Yes, I still lose the lower abs from time to time, although I am definitely feeling them stay engaged more often than not.

There are exactly zero full-length mirrors on my running course, so I have no idea what my lean actually looked like.  I tried to observe my shadow on a couple of stretches, and it looked like I was in a slight lean with straight posture, but I think I’ll need to engage a more vocal observer – very soon.

An interesting observation – I had tried to engage the lean in a semi-walk in the house and it came out a very comical backward shuffle.  I was skeptical, until I tried it on my run.  It really does work when you are running.  I suspect the shuffle occurred because I wasn’t truly using the force of the floor.

I am still struggling with keeping my right foot and ankle relaxed.  Perhaps it’s because that was the foot I injured and I’m subconsciously not allowing it full range yet.  Good thing Lesson 3 – the passive lower leg – is coming up next.

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