Sunday, March 13, 2011
Chi Running, Part 1: Working with rather than against nature
I took a Chi Running workshop yesterday so, when I headed out for my long run this morning, I was determined to put some of what I'd learned into practice.
Chi Running is a running technique that incorporates key elements of Tai Chi. Practitioners rely on good posture, core strength and gravity to reduce wear and tear on the muscles in their legs and feet. Essentially, they "fall" into every step, using their core muscles and hip flexors to move their legs forward so that they don't end up face down on the pavement. It sounds simple but, in fact, the technique has many elements (posture, cadence, breathing, armswing, footstrike, etc.) that can take months or even years to learn.
It goes without saying then that my chi running form was a long way from perfect today. Nevertheless, by focussing on just a few elements, my technique improved enough that I was able to run 17 kms 4 or 5 minutes faster than I would otherwise have expected to. More importantly, I enjoyed the run - so much so that I added 5 kms to the distance I planned to run when I set out. No doubt my enjoyment had a lot to do with the fact that it was a warm, sunny early spring day, but the fact that running felt so good helped too - at least whenever I managed to find the "sweet spot" in my form and pace that made it feel as near to effortless as it ever has. Needless to say, I'm looking forward to my next run so that I can continue to work on my technique.
The thing about chi running is that it's all about working with, rather than against, nature. It seems to me the same principle can be applied on a psychological or emotional level as well.
I believe we almost always have choices in the way we respond to the emotional and psychological issues that arise in our lives from time to time. However, our own individual natures mean we may not want to handle issues in the way others think we should - and that's okay. It's important to recognize when different choices are better options for us. After all, we're the ones who have to live with them.
For example, just because others think we should be angry with someone doesn't mean we have to be. For whatever reason, we may be more inclined to feel compassion, concern and/or affection instead and to act accordingly. The opposite may be true as well. But, in any case, acting in a way that is compatible with our own natures, rather than in ways that meet others' expectations, seems to be the key to being happy with our choices.
For a few more pics from my run today, click here.