After practicing the passive lower leg, the authors recommend “taking it to the sand.” By running in the sand and then examining your footprints, you can tell if you’re still heel striking or if you’re pushing off with your toes.
It would have been much more fun if I had been able to run barefoot on sand in Hawaii. But I live in Utah and it is winter here. Finding sand proved to be a bit of a challenge. I ran to the junior high school, where they have a great track but no sand. I ran to the elementary school in hope of finding sand around the playground equipment. Asphalt? That won’t help. I thought about trying the golf course, but most of the sand traps are more vertical than horizontal.
I finally found a sand volleyball court in a city park about half a mile away. I ran to the park, focusing on keeping my lower legs relaxed and peeling my feet off the surface, and ran straight through the sand once I got there.
The sand does not lie. Every strike had a divot at the toe. I’m pushing off with my toes. Keep practicing. Lift the heel and peel the foot. Relax. Relax. Relax.
The next run was better. My left foot made beautiful, even footprints. My right foot left divots in the toe. I cleared the sand and tried again. Same result. I did this about five more times, and while my left foot has it right, my right foot is obstinately insisting on pushing off with the toe. I may be the only person I know who has ever wished to have two left feet.
One of the key premises of Chi Running is maintaining balance. I seem to have an out-of-balance condition between my right foot and my left foot. I’ll have to focus on what’s different and work on making them the same.