I don’t know about you, but if you’re like me and about 15 million other runners, you’ve dealt with your fair share of running injuries.
Stress fractures, sprained ankles, aching hips and knees, pinched nerves, shin splints, or just chafing – you name it, I had it. But I accepted it as a part of running, and kept pushing on. “No pain, no gain” as they say!
But after reading ChiRunning by Danny Dreyer, I found out that running doesn’t have to be frought with injury. I’m always skeptical with anything that costs money, and claims like “effortless, injury-free running” really raised my BS meter, but I was so desperate to improve my running that I had to test it out… (Plus, I did a little research on Danny Dreyer, and he turned out to be a pretty serious ultramarathoner. Anyone that can do that must be serious!)
I actually got the book and DVD so I could test both, which was great, because sometimes I need to see things like this in motion. I do pretty good with books and pictures, but proper form is no joke. It doesn’t matter whether it’s running or weight lifting, improper form can cause serius injury, so this is not a place to cut costs.
In case you are new to Chi Running (I just learned of it this year myself,) I’ll begin with an overview of the concept.
What ChiRunning is.
Just to be clear, ChiRunning is NOT some miracle drug or diet pill that will get you in shape and have you running four minute miles tomorrow. It is a method of running that you actually have to read about and even practice a few times, just to improve your running form.
With that said, ChiRunning (www.chirunning.com) is indeed a revolutionary product because it focuses on your running form and how to run more efficiently (which ends up being very different from typical running.) Even when I ran track in high school, no one taught me about running form. We just went straight into long runs, sprints/interval workouts, and some weight lifting.
ChiRunning incorporates concepts from T’ai Chi, along with basic laws of physics, to create an efficient method of running where you actually relax your muscles and let gravity do the work. It deals with posture, body position, foot strike, and each arm and leg movement you make while running. When put together, it creates proper running form, with the idea that you’ll be able to run efficiently over long distances without pain or injury.
[That reminds me… running does not cause injuries. Improper running causes injuries. So if you can run properly, you can avoid the majority of injuries commonly attributed to running.]
Yes, runner faster and longer without injury is a lofty goal, but one worth pursuing. So if you want to pursue it…
The ChiRunning Book.
If you are going to improve your running with ChiRunning, at least get a copy of the book for $15. The book is about 221 pages, and I read every single one over the course of two days.
After an introduction and a couple chapters that explain why ChiRunning is better than the typical “power running” style, the book gets into the real meat of the topic. It explains in detail each component of proper ChiRunning form, and you get diagrams and photos to go with each part. Then there are quick and easy drills that you can practice to ingrain each piece into your head.
Once you have gone through each section, it explains how to put them all together and go for a run! Then there are some more drills to do to make sure everything is working correctly.
Other than the running, there are sections on warm-ups and stretching, and then a number of other detailed sections including uphill and downhill running, proper nutrition, racing, preparing a training program, etc.
A lot of the detailed sections are applicable even if you already have good form or haven’t even tried ChiRunning. For example, the downhill running strategy and some racing tips are worth the cost of the book right there. I think it covers everything you need to know when beginning running!
The ChiRunning DVD.
Where the book is like an encyclopedia, the DVD is like the Cliff Notes version. It contains just the essentials to give you proper running form without taking up too much of your time (it’s about an hour long.)
The DVD starts by introducing the concepts behind ChiRunning, but it makes sense of it pretty quickly, and then you are able to get straight into the drills you need to practice to achieve proper form and technique.
Form and technique are paramount in ChiRunning, so actually watching people do the drills and then run with the proper form is very, very helpful. The action is captured from various angles and makes strategic use of slow motion so you can really understand what’s going on.
After watching the DVD once and messing around with a few of the drills in my living room, I felt like I was ready to go running!
On my very first run after watching the DVD, I could tell my form was significantly better than before. It was easy to notice, considering I could run until it started taxing my heart and lungs, which never happened before (my leg muscles always gave out long before I could give my cardiovascular system a workout.) Plus I checked my watch and was actually running a faster pace than usual, despite feeling like I wasn’t putting in that much effort.
Obviously I wasn’t perfect on that run, but it was a big improvement. Over the next month I steadily improved my form, decreased my perceived exertion, and dramatically decreased the pain level of running, and subsequently, my recovery time. (It used to take me 3-5 days to recover after a moderate 5 mile run, because of the pounding my body took. Now I’m good to go the next day!)
I think that I’ll keep steadily improving and within a year I should be pretty freakin good at this. It will take a long time to really master it, but that’s OK, because the immediate results were already more than I had hoped for! I highly recommend this to any runner, whether you’re a total beginner or a seasoned veteran looking for any performance edge you can find.
Official website: www.chirunning.com