T12! L1! Hut! Hut! Sounds like a quarterback calling plays, but actually, it refers to the “pivot point” in your spine – the place where the curve of your upper (thoracic) spine meets the curve or your lower (lumbar) spine. In Chi Running, this is the point from which all of the motion of your lower body begins.
Lesson 5 is an interesting lesson because the focus is strictly on awareness. You don’t actually do anything different. The point of the lesson is to feel your pelvis rotating. Well, OK, for me there is something I will have to consciously do. Relax. Relax. Relax.
Here’s the exercise – lovingly referred to by the authors as The Pool Running Drill. What a great visual image! I think every kid has had the experience of running alongside a pool and hearing that dreaded whistle followed by a loud “WALK!” My daughter was a lifeguard for several years and put many a child in timeout for continuing to run. So, to avoid timeout (and to do the exercise), the idea is to transition to the fastest walk you are capable of. According to the authors, this exercise will really allow you to feel your pelvis rotating (at T12/L1).
I ran about a mile before my inner lifeguard blew the whistle. Shifted into the fastest walk I could muster, and sure enough, I could feel my pelvis rotating. Success! When I shifted back to a run I could still feel the rotation, but it seemed like it was my upper body rotating rather than my lower body. Hmmmm – this is not right. I tried it a few more times over the length of the run. The exercise did what it was supposed to do; it made me feel the rotation. Lesson 6 will show me how to use the rotation.
Let’s see – when do I get to the upper body focus? Not until lesson 7. Sigh. Gradual progress…