Chi Running Exercise (cont.)
Effortless running is about relaxing muscles, opening tight joints, and using gravity to do the work, he says. Here's a quick how-to-start outline:
Step 1: Focus Your Mind
"It's the mind that does the bulk of the work in ChiRunning," writes Dreyer. "Your mind turns off the chatter and focuses so it can listen to your body."
Your mind instructs your muscles to start working or relaxing. Your mind orchestrates the perfect run, starting out slowly, finding the perfect tempo, he adds. Your mind takes in the beauty of your surroundings so that you finish relaxed, and full of energy.
When you begin running, your mind must also push against the body's natural inertia. "Your body is like a dumb animal," Dreyer tells WebMD. "It will stay at rest until acted upon by an outside force like your mind. You have to train it."
Step 2: Sense Your Body
Pay close attention to what your body is doing. Practice listening to any little nuances that you can detect. Feel your foot hitting the ground. Feel your posture.
Is your body moving in the way you intended it to? Is your movement easier or more difficult? Are there subtle changes you should make?
As you begin running, you must develop body sense. Then you will become your own best teacher and coach, says Dreyer.
Step 3: Breathe to Tap Into Chi
The more efficiently your body can take in oxygen, the easier running will feel, Dreyer explains. If you're not breathing deeply into your lower lungs, you're not getting as much air as you could -- a common problem when people begin running.
To belly-breathe, stand or sit and place your hands over your belly button. Now purse your lips as if you're trying to blow a candle out, and exhale, emptying your lungs by pulling in your belly button toward your spine. When you've blown out as much air as you can, relax your belly and the inhale will occur naturally.
Practice breathing out for three steps, breathing in for two steps. Try matching your breath with your cadence.
Step 4: Relax Your Muscles
Tight muscles can't get the oxygen they need. The cure is easy: Just relax! Don't take yourself so seriously. Drop your shoulders. Smile. Relax your glutes. Float like a butterfly... lighten up, says Dreyer.
When muscles are loose and relaxed, the oxygen carried in your blood can enter the muscle cells much more easily than if your muscles are tense. Keep telling your muscles, "Softer is better!"
Step 5: Practice Good Posture
Having good running posture is the cornerstone of ChiRunning. When your posture is correct, energy or chi flows through your body unhindered, he explains.
Your aligned body has a centerline that runs from head to foot. It is the "steel" that supports your body, which allows your arms and legs to relax. Running with your posture out of alignment creates tension and fatigue.