Thursday, January 3, 2013

Chi Running – Lesson 8 – Y’Chi and the Knee Bending Exercise

It seems quite appropriate, after my recent foot-injury scare, that this be the next exercise in the series.  To quote the authors, “This exercise is designed to give you a clear sense of running without pushing off with your feet.”  Hoping that if I can really, truly, stop pushing off with my right toe, I can really, truly increase my distance without re-injuring my foot.

The first step in this exercise was to warm up with a 10-minute run, then to do four repeats of the knee bending exercise.  What, exactly, is the knee bending exercise?  It’s a three step drill.

Step 1:  Run in place by just bending your knees and picking up your heels.  Do this with your hands holding the sides of your legs – to make sure you’re not lifting your knees.  Do this keeping your lower legs limp and relaxed.  Do 30 – rest 30 seconds – repeat three times.
Step 2:  Start running in place, add a lean, then run for about 20 feet, making sure you don’t tense your ankles as you lean.
Step 3:  Repeat step 2, and at a spot about 10 yards from where you started, add the arm swing.

The Y’Chi part comes in between steps 2 and 3.  What, exactly, is Y’Chi?  It’s the Chinese term for using your mind to direct the energy and movement of your body through your eyes.  In the context of running, the authors recommend visualizing your body filled with energy, focusing that energy on a point in the distance, and running to that point without ever breaking your gaze.

After doing the knee bending exercise, continue to run at a comfortable pace with your countdown timer set to repeat every two minutes.  When the timer goes off, stop and do the knee-bending exercise again, going through all three steps. 

Countdown timer?  Yikes – I don’t own a countdown timer.  Thankfully – there’s an app for that.  I downloaded “Ultrachron Lite” from the Google App Store and set it for a two-minute countdown.

During the 3.5 mile course I ran, I was able to do the knee-bending exercise five times.  I think I’m getting the feel of a true midfoot strike, but I’m still not relaxing my lower legs nearly enough, and yes, I caught myself bouncing – which means I’m still pushing off with my toes.  As for Y’Chi – well, I am way too easily distracted.  I lost my gaze every single time. 

The smart-phone countdown timer was probably not as efficient as the multi-function watches you see in the running stores.  I had to manually reset it each time for the 2 minute countdown.  I may have to invest in a real runner’s watch.  I may have to get a part-time job to support my running habit. J

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