Monday, June 05, 2006 Chi Running Workshop, Sunday, June 4, 2006, Kitchener, Ontario

My friend from work, Jan, and I attended a ChiRunning workshop on Sunday, held in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. It was about a 5.5 hour drive from Grand Rapids, MI, for us. I had been looking at workshops in Chicago, but all the dates when I could make it were filled. When we noticed the June 4 as an open date, we immediately signed up.

I have been interested in Chi Running for a couple of months now. It is a running concept that comes from proper posture and use of core muscles to achieve distance and speed, rather than leg muscles. There's a lot more to it, of course, and without your having read the book or viewed the DVD, you probably won't be able to see the benefit I did in this program.

The workshop was very informative, as it reinforced in my mind that my running form was correct and basically all I needed was to be consistent-both in running and in practicing the posture and "loosening" drills, aimed at loosening up the hips, which is the prime core area.

What I mainly learned was that my past running form has been causing my injuries over the past several years. While I had been a competitive age grouper for many years, once I was injured, it was very hard to go back to competitive running, not only because mentally I was afraid to, but apparently my inner self was protesting too. So with each successive injury, my form got worse and worse, favoring the good to compensate for the bad. Before I knew it, my running form of the past was non-existent and all I seemed to do was injure something the more I persisted with my training.

Part of this most likely was from "muscle memory" meaning your muscles remember how to do something, whether good or bad, and you have to break that "code" to get out of that trap once and for all. Actually by not running much over the past 2 years, I have lost a lot of the muscle memory, making it easier to pick up the concept.

We met at a local Catholic School track in Kitchener, which is a college town, and also seemed to be a very pleasant area. Our group consisted of 10 people, including us, and the instructor, Larry Neumann. Larry did an excellent job of presenting us not only with the concept, but the instructions on proper posture, which is first and foremost, leaning, and relaxation. He believes that "you have to go slower to go faster." This is a concept I have always heard, but I wasn't ever sure it really applied in my case, since I always went slow anyway and no matter how many slow miles I put in, I never seemed to go any faster.

We did many practice drills, and one in particular was in the sand pit. Our instruction was to run across the sand in order to see whether we had a flat, even footfall. From this exercise, you could see whether you pushed off with your toes (not necessary), were a heel striker (prime source of knee injuries), and whether your feet were pointed straight ahead. (The point being that if your feet are pointed sideways and you are running forward, you are torquing your knees.

Since my left foot tends to be the overpronator, and I am constantly "rolling" that ankle because of it, I was quite surprised when my footprints showed my right foot turning out to the right more than the left. I have been having severe heel pain for months and this is most likely the reason--every time I land and my foot is turned, I somehow twist it around straight, causing the wrenching on the heel and the constant pain.

The workshop was approximately 5 hours long. We were lucky that the weather cooperated, as it had rained most of the day before and had turned much cooler than previous days. We were in jackets most of the time, but it was better than sweltering heat. We could have broke for breaks, but none of us wanted to! Everyone in the class was very receptive to the instruction and concept, so none of us were bored at any time. Things moved along quickly, but it still seemed like we were there much longer.

At the end of the session, we were videotaped and then critiqued. I was quite happy to see my form was almost perfect, with just a few minor adjustments necessary (in my opinion more than the instructor). We were also sent the class videos, and upon watching them, the ones I thought had the best form actually need more work. For example, when you pause the videos, you can see whether your body is in proper alignment as we are taught, whether you are a heel striker, toe runner, or stride too much in front of your body (main reason for hamstring injuries, soreness, and muscle imbalance).

All in all, I was very pleased and would recommend this to anyone who suffers constant injuries or muscle soreness when running, especially if you have goals where you want to run more but keep getting injured (that's me!). It was a good investment, as far as I am concerned. After all, how much money do we spend on massages, orthotics, chiropractic, sometimes physical therapy, and especially shoes just so we can run?? For the price of maybe 2 massages, you can achieve the ability to run injury and pain free for the rest of your life. That's what I intend to do.

No comments: