Making the Adjustments
ChiRunning is a practice. There are many elements for you to perfect over time. Each time you go out you can focus on a different aspect of the ChiRunning technique. Think about your posture, your core, your armswing, your cadence, your breathing….
Feeling the Chi
Hazel Wood, certified ChiRunning instructor, explains that it takes time to “feel” within your body. Appreciate what it feels like to feel the ground under your feet, the subtle lean of your body, and the movement of your armswing. Some elements of the ChiRunning technique might come very easy to you.
Maybe it's the feeling of the balance between your gravity-assisted lean and your back-kick. Or maybe it's your cadence or your armswing. Wood recommends focusing during the early stages of learning on those elements that come naturally and easily to you rather than working hard on the elements that are effortful.
How long will it take to learn ChiRunning?
To fully adopt the ChiRunning technique takes most people about three months. Dreyer states that most people feel 95 percent better while running by the end of a ChiRunning workshop.
If you currently run in one of those heavy, cushioned, high-heeled running shoes, Dreyer recommends a progression to a lighter, flatter shoe for ChiRunning. A safe progression can be accomplished in one of two ways: (1) drop your running mileage and go straight into a minimalist shoe, or (2) you can continue with your current mileage but change from the heavy shoe first to a neutral trainer, then to a racing flat. Either way, you must apply the principle of Gradual Progress while making the transition.
The ChiRunning Movement
Dreyer describes the ChiRunning movement as one of growth worldwide. His book, which is a must for anyone serious about learning ChiRunning, first printed in 2004, is printed in 10 languages at this writing. There are at least 145 certified ChiRunning instructors in 20 countries and almost 200,000 runners have attended ChiRunning workshops.
ChiWalking was born in 2008 out of popular demand and is based on the fundamentals of ChiRunning.
Momentum for the ChiRunning movement is gathering as more people become interested in running in minimalist shoes.
The Best Way to Learn It
The ChiRunning book and an associated DVD are available at the ChiRunning website. If you want to learn the ChiRunning technique, you can take a ChiRunning workshop (they are offered all over the world). Although you can understand and practice the elements of the ChiRunning technique, there is no substitute for having a certified ChiRunning instructor teach you and critique your form. Dreyer estimates that the biomechanics of ChiRunning is only about 10 percent of what it is to be a ChiRunner.
Hazel Wood, certified ChiRunning instructor, states that the most common form error she observes in fledgling ChiRunners is leaning too much. The proper forward lean is much less than most people think. Without instruction, people will often heel-strike and take too long a stride. They will also tend toward not relaxing their legs enough, which leads to underutilizing the effect of gravity and overusing their legs.
Danny and Katherine Dreyer clearly and expertly lay out ChiRunning drills called Form Focuses in their ChiRunning book. Form Focuses clearly explain the posture, alignment, and core strengthening techniques needed for ChiRunning. The Dreyers have also created a three-disk audio series (also available in an MP3 format) that talks a runner through the ChiRunning form.