As a keen runner, I was very interested to see if Chi Running would help me become more powerful and effective at the sport. Here's what happened when I gave it a try...
Chi Running is a method and style of running developed by an American ultramarathon runner by the name of Danny Dreyer. He was also a T’ai chi practicioner, thus the focus is on getting “in the flow” and teaching runners to move in a more efficient, natural way.
I decided to try a Chi Running workshop for myself after reading about it in several magazines. I really wanted to fall back in love with running again. Having had an injury at the last stages of marathon training earlier this year the most running I’d done of late was running to catch a bus. Could my teacher, Nick Constantine from soulinmotion really make running fun again?
Nick isn’t your typical PE teacher type. For a start, his company name is a clue to his chi-inspired outlook. He has a degree in Astronomy and Astrophysics and is an Iyengar Yoga teacher. His running CV is equally impressive. He has worked with some exceptional runners including marathon winner and Olympian Catherina MacKeirnon. For lesser mortals, he also teaches Chi Walking if running isn't your thing.
Disconcertingly, the first part of the lesson involved Nick pulling out a video camera and filming me running about the park. Despite my work in television, it was hard not to feel self-conscious - especially when I considered some of the hard-core runners he has worked with in the past. He’d have none of it however. He was great at keeping things relaxed and fun.
When I watched it back it wasn’t exactly inspirational. However, despite the embarrassment of watching myself it really did help Nick illustrate his point. I was running too upright whereas he describes the best running form to look and feel more like falling forwards. If you can see your feet, you are not Chi running!
Before I ran for my “after” video Nick spent some time getting me to focus on running from my core and getting me to practice running with a midfoot strike. Luckily, my arms were fine, neat and not crossing the centreline so at least I was getting something right. All in all, I spent 2.5 hours in the company of this running guru. My “after” video wasn’t quite gazelle-like but it was a huge improvement.
Since my workshop with Nick I’ve run a bit more often and yes, I can feel a difference. The fact that I’m concentrating on the running, rather than just trying to zone out with music, makes it more interesting too. So, if you have signed up to run your first race or need some help to take your running to the next level, give Chi running a try!
To find out more about Nick and Chi running visit the Soul In Motion website here.