How to run, meditate, and not get hurt

Discuss

59 Responses to “How to run, meditate, and not get hurt”

  1. Anonymous says:

    @gerg
    ChiRunning is not comparable to the Pose Method. The only similarity between the two is they both suggest a slight forward lean. ALL else is different; including:
    - ChiRunning is mid-foot (or FULL foot with equal pressure across the entire foot).
    - Pose Method is fore-foot on the balls of the feet/calf/etc.

    Like all animals in nature running for efficiency and to prevent injury, [Erwan Le Corre] changes his technique depending on the terrain.

  2. Anonymous says:

    So is there evidence that this actually works, like data comparing the injury rates of runners who were taught this technique (and got the appropriate shoes) and runners who weren’t? If not, I’m worried that this could be like one of those fad diets, where a guru with a plausible sounding theory (plus some mumbo jumbo) and a few success stories from people who’ve tried it attracts a ton of followers. I stopped running a few years ago because of knee problems, and this article almost inspired me to go out, buy a pair of these shoes, and give it another shot, but then my inner skeptic kicked in.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Can anyone elaborate how this technique is supposed to make use of gravity? That doesn’t make sense to me…

  4. Anonymous says:

    The most important thing in running is running how you are comfortable. If your stride makes you uncomfortable or causes injury, then by all means try something else. But the concept that one style is more “natural” is not supported by any conclusive evidence.

    Watch Paula Radcliffe run. Her head bobbles all over the place, not exactly very “chi” but she is the #1 ranked female marathoner in the world.

  5. pandatime says:

    3rd times the charm . I see Cadence app has come up twice already in the comments. I use it too, running has been a different experience since I started. Its easier for me to focus when all my music is at the same speed and I am on pace with my music.

    http://www.cadenceapp.com is the website, they have a runners tab .

  6. imag says:

    Re: mystical forces

    I don’t believe Chi is some actual universal force. However, I do think it makes sense that *visualizing* a chi-type force can allow you to do things slightly differently than you would if you try to just do the motions mechanistically. Our brain isn’t simply instruction-based; things like imaginary “forces” allow us to focus differently.

    Watch anybody at a rave doing an energy ball dance and tell me they could repeat those movements without imagining that there’s a ball of energy in their hands. It doesn’t matter whether there is really a ball of energy – the point is that we can do cool things by convincing ourselves, for a moment or a lifetime, that the ball exists. Keying into how we think, especially with abstract movements which can’t easily be put into words, is a valid technique, regardless of whether or not the force is “real”.

  7. mkultra says:

    I don’t run, although I walk over 200 miles a month. I seriously believe that each person has a natural gait and pace individual to them alone. Of course this can be unlearned or relearned, but in my experience it’s fighting your innate nature in a way which is anything but relaxing.

    Of course, I listen to audio books while I walk, and my experience with that is really interesting, almost trancelike. I start my gps tracker and audiobook where I left off, start walking, and ‘tune out’ until it’s time to take my hydration break a little over an hour later. 10 minutes later, head back.

    In my opinion, running is quite dangerous, hard on the joints, and unsustainable over the course of decades. I’m sure it’s easier to schedule 45 minutes of running over 2.5 hours of walking, but is it really worth it?

    • Snig says:

      It’s great that you walk and enjoy it, others get bored with it, others get different pleasures from both. There have been studies on long term runners, and while studies may refine this further, current thinking is they don’t neccessarily have an increased risk of osteoarthritis (wear and tear on joints) vs. non-runners. J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2006 Jun;106(6):342-5
      I think there’s similar studies on injuries vs. non-runners.

      My dad’s been running for 43 years, I know others of similar duration. He always felt running or walking with headphones on was dangerous, as you were susceptible to theft and traffic, but it depends on where you are.

    • davidasposted says:

      I also began walking longer distances while listening to audio books, pausing every 50 minutes or so and beginning again with the new hour. I started doing it after working and attending university full-time, which left me with very little time to myself (and for that matter very little time outside). I listened to a considerable number of great books and I’m glad to read someone else in BoingBoing land has been doing the same thing!

    • angryhippo says:

      A study published last September in Arthritis Research & Therapy, under the title “Aerobic exercise and its impact on musculoskeletal pain in older adults: a 14-year prospective, longitudinal study.” It compared the runners, who averaged about 26 miles a week, to a matched set of controls, who averaged about two miles a week. The study’s major conclusion: The runners experienced “about 25 percent less musculoskeletal pain” than the controls.

      Your body isn’t like a car where it will wear out with use, there is a adaptive response to training.

      I do have to agree about the headphones- leave them at home. It seems that a lot of people put a tremendous amount of trust that cars will watch out for them. Why limit your senses while you’re running?

  8. MollyMaguire says:

    Or, you could not send your money to any shoe company or training program and just run barefoot, like humans were meant to do. But, of course, chi running will be bigger than barefoot running because Americans don’t believe that anything that comes free can be of any value.

  9. Anonymous says:

    The school I attended K-8 was in what is today called an “economically disadvantaged” area, so when we ran at P.E., we did it barefoot. The P.E. teacher was maniacal about his all-grass track, and made students walk around it picking up rocks for punishment. I have fond memories of running barefoot on that track my whole childhood, and I still remember how it felt. The only downside was that my school always lost at track meets because we were all so used to running barefoot, which wasn’t allowed at inter-school meets.

  10. 13tales says:

    On the idea of “chi”/”ki” –

    it does seem a bit woo-woo, for want of a better word. That said, I used to train under an Aikido teacher who focussed very heavily on that side of the art, and stressed that aspect when teaching any technique.

    He was probably the most impressive traditional martial artist I’ve ever seen or met – he was in his late 70s but moved like a snake, with very impressive strength/power, and would regularly demonstrate his techniques against multiple students armed with training weapons.

    He always instructed students to use “ki” when performing techniques, and would draw a distinction between when you were and weren’t doing so satisfactorily. It often seemed to make the difference between the technique succeeding or failing, too.

    I found a lot of his fairly mystical explanations for the workings of the art hard to swallow, but my general conclusion: there’s something going on there, although it may not be what they think it is.

    Call it mystical energy, or a useful metaphor for creative visualisation in order to align your body and move with better form, it works.

  11. Gordon Asper says:

    I noticed music and audio books are coming up a lot. I use the app that was mentioned above called Cadence. I actually like it that there is no distance or traditional running metric on the app.

    Is great running with music that matches the speed I am running, its just enough to concentrate on and helps me a ton.

    the link is above but I’ll mention it again.

    http://www.cadenceapp.com

  12. Anonymous says:

    Yoga is a way of life, a conscious act, not a set or series of learning principles. The dexterity, grace, and poise you cultivate, as a matter of course, is the natural outcome of regular practice. You require no major effort. In fact trying hard will turn your practices into a humdrum, painful, even injurious routine and will eventually slow down your progress. Subsequently, and interestingly, the therapeutic effect of Yoga is the direct result of involving the mind totally in inspiring (breathing) the body to awaken. Yoga is probably the only form of physical activity that massages each and every one of the body’s glands and organs. This includes the prostate, a gland that seldom, if ever, gets externally stimulated in one’s whole life.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Good luck on your first half-marathon! I admire people who even attempt it. Running has always been a weakness of mine, I couldn’t understand why people would subject themselves to that. The post at least helped me realize that there are other methods to view and approach this task that always leaves my body aching. :)

  14. Kyle Goetz says:

    I learned how to run (rather than just doing what came natural) and started running longer distances soon after.

    My shin splints went away.

    The interesting thing?

    No pain, but I wear tennis shoes rather than run barefoot! The shock!

  15. Lady Katey says:

    This sounds great! I gave up running this summer after a knee injury. (Now that I’m recovered I’ve moved into the boring gym world of ellipticals and stationary bikes) I’ts great to know that it’s possible to run without so much stress to my joints.

    I was going to post to whine about there not being any women’s shoes designed for this style of running, but there are, so I’ll just link for others wondering the same thing:
    New Balance
    Nike Free Everyday+ Woman

    FWIW, I never listened to music on runs. Part of it was paranoia over knowing where cars were the curvy narrowish road I ran on most of the time, and part of it was my OCD need to count my breaths.

  16. Anonymous says:

    I have been practicing Chi Running. It is not the same as any other technique. I had lost a lot of cartilage due to several knee injuries. I tried everything w/o success to get back to running. After four years of struggling my wife bought me Chi Running lessons.

    I no run comfortably and efficiently. I wish I would have learned Chi Running a long time ago. There would have been a lot less pain and better personal best.

    Take a lesson and find out what it is before judging Chi running. This is not an ad, only a testimonial about what chi running has done for me. I no longer cry when I see people running because I can’t.

    Chi running has saved my sanity and my life style. Thanks Danny!! Take a lesson, it is well worth the money and time. I tried it by reading the book and mastering Chi running is only achievable by getting lessons.

  17. Anonymous says:

    That’s great some folks here feel that their natural running technique or what feels most comfortable works for them. Maybe they do possess the proper form & technique as recommened by chirunning. Many of us however, do not run w/ proper technique.

    Just about any sport I know has proper or efficient techniques. It might be natural for someone to pick up a box w/o bending at the knees but that doesn’t make it the most efficient or proper way to do it.

    W/o understing all the form focuses & principles it would be hard to argue w/ what you agree w/ or not about chirunning. There’s a bit more to it than landing midfoot & leaning from your ankles (this part partially exlains the use of gravity), but I can say everything does seem logical. Every part of your movement should be balanced or have a counter balance (ying & yang)…

    Aside from the running aspect, the philosophical approach can be applied to everyday types of routines. Being mindful when you’re sitting at your desk working in front of a computer all day where you could be sitting incorrectly w/ poor posture, standing & waiting in line w/ proper form, opening your senses to other things going on around you..

    I guess the point is to be open to fully understanding what chirunning is all about.

  18. Aloisius says:

    I didn’t really run much until recently when I started a bootcamp program. During the program I would run hills and I managed to get really nasty shin splints for the first time in my life. I haven’t run any real distance in almost 10 weeks because of it.

    I’ve been considering getting some really thin shoes and trying my hand at barefoot-esque running, but I’ve been reluctant because of all the counter-examples I’ve read of people who continue to have shin pain even doing barefoot and chi running.

    Plus it is getting rainy. :)

    • Snig says:

      If it’s not getting better, an oddball diagnosis could be stress fracture, so getting it checked out is always a good idea. Shin splints are easier to get in both legs than stress fractures, but You can try the “toe drag” stretch found on this page for the tibialis anterior:

      http://www.mckinley.illinois.edu/Handouts/running_injury_prevent/running_injury_prevent.html

      You don’t need to drag the toe, just hold it for 30 seconds. If it doesn’t get the area with your big toe on the floor, try turning your ankle so your little toe is on the ground. Do the stretch a few times a day, as well as before and after any running.

      If it doesn’t relieve the pain, it may benefit from physical therapy/orthopaedic eval (Full disclosure: I’m a chiropractor who also does physical therapy)

      • Aloisius says:

        Yeah I went and saw a doctor a few weeks after it happened. I’ll have to go back again if it continues. I have posterior shin splints, so that stretch won’t do much, but there are some others I do from time to time.

        I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to do hill running again. It sounds like chi running just causes you to strike midfoot which wouldn’t help much with hill running since I basically end up on the balls of my feet.

        • Snig says:

          Posterior shin splints suck. Tibialis posterior (if that’s what it is) is harder to stretch and is generally more resistant to therapy. If it’s not improving, you might want to try some deep tissue work on it or get a trigger point injection if it’s interfering with quality of life.

      • Aloisius says:

        Yeah I went and saw a doctor a few weeks after it happened. I’ll have to go back again if it continues. I have posterior shin splints, so that stretch won’t do much, but there are some others I do from time to time.

        I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to do hill running again. It sounds like chi running just causes you to strike midfoot which wouldn’t help much with hill running since I basically end up on the balls of my feet.

      • Snig says:

        Sorry, muddled a sentence:
        Shin splints are easier to get in both legs than stress fractures, but not impossible.

  19. gerg says:

    Chi running can also be compared to POSE running, both of which encourage you to run on your forefront, and avoid heel striking.

    Take your shoes off and walk or run around (start on grass or dirt track, smooth stone also feels nice), and you will find yourself naturally running on the front of your foot, as heel striking is painful.

    Also check out MovNat with Erwan Le Corre, here’s a video of him running barefoot, I beleive he uses the POSE style: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3nwbzpyterI

    MovNat: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SKGF-ErsJiI

    Personally I find barefoot running quite relaxing, as you can feel all the different textures and shapes and temperatures of the ground you are running on.

    The other benefit is it is less damaging to your body as you aren’t relying on shoes to absorb the impact, and are using your calves for the purpose they are designed for. It does take some acclimatisation though.

    And no you won’t cut your feet to shreds, build up the toughness slowly, and look where you are going. Don’t run through glass, and slow down for gravel :)

    • Greg Gainer says:

      I definitely agree with you gerg how feeling the different textures on the ground while running barefoot is very liberating. I’ve been experimenting with barefoot running for the past month and I’ve had to say I’ve noticed things I never noticed before when running in shoes…

      But unfortunately I had to break down and buy some “barefoot” shoes. I was thinking about vibram fivefingers but ended up getting some Nike Frees… though it was pretty confusing figuring the whole naming convention out for those shoes (this did help though http://barefootrunningshoes.org/2009/10/15/nike-free-shoes-naming-convention-explained/).

      So now I alternate between some barefoot running and nike free running…hoping to build up tolerance so I can ditch the shoes.

  20. Jasonclock says:

    I wanted to write a witty, nerdy post about how 85 BPM is not even an option with a traditional metronome but I’m just not at all witty. Just nerdy and anal-retentive.

  21. Anonymous says:

    I think it is a good topic about running and you have defined it very well…

    Thanks….

  22. robulus says:

    God that sounds complicated. I don’t think I have sufficient powers of concentration. I just ride my bike, it’s very hard to get that wrong, and I can keep the ipod blasting.

  23. Anonymous says:

    I’ve been running more or less three times a week for 24 years or so. nothing crazy just running for pleasure (stress relief, better sleep, those addictive brain chemicals that keep you happy the rest of the day…).
    As for chi running, I’m struggling to see what’s so new about this. I learned at age 12 to run with a regular cadence. That’s why you time your breath with your stride. The postural set up is indeed “kenyan” , but it’s also been used by many great long distance runners before them.
    Running is natural. running shoes? not so much.
    form helps, stretching helps. if your getting shin splints, do some slow lunge exercises to develop your gluteals and then stretch them (sounds crazy but it worked for me).
    as for chi doubters, there’s nothing woo-woo about it. some days your dragging…low chi. other days you feel like you could run forever. plenty of chi. learn to be disciplined about the things in life that seem to affect your “chi” (heavy food, t.v., stress) and you can have more energy all the time.
    just some thoughts-carlos
    keep running

  24. Anonymous says:

    I think it is a good topic about running and you have defined it very well…

    Thanks….

  25. AudioTherapist says:

    Pity that despite having a plausible scientific explanation for the technique they’re still naming it after a magical force with no known basis in reality, big turnoff…

  26. fiatrn says:

    Part of the beauty in running is simplicity. Sure, I can wear the gps watch and the ipod and such, but I can also just lace up some shoes and go for a run. I’ve not advanced to barefoot running, but will as time goes by.

    I used to be confused by runners, laboring uphills and down as I rocketed along on my bicycle. But then I tried it, and found that there’s a serenity to going places totally gear free.

    Trail running at 11,000 feet gives a pleasant buzz un-reproducable in all the other sports I play at. It’s not better or higher, but very different.

    If you want to learn to run, buy some shoes and go for a short run. Then go for a slightly longer run. It takes awhile for your leg muscles to build up and be ready for distance. In my case, my legs took a looooooong time to become equal to my already decent cardio. This was frustrating – I could “outrun” my own legs and not feel winded. Eventually I evened out – and I think I’m better at all my other sports than before I took up running.

    This Sunday I’ll do my second marathon, and then look into even lighter thinner shoes, and move toward barefoot running.

    For those questioning – to run in the cold, wear a hat and a long sleeve shirt that you can tuck your hands into the sleeves. I can wear shorts down to about 25 degrees, but it’s tough to get warm in that cold in shorts. For rain, wear a rain jacket and accept a shorter run and wet feet.

    Jonathan
    The Fiat RN

  27. Anonymous says:

    Wow, always amazing to me how many people are bothered or turned off by anything that doesn’t conform to the ego-centered limited view of reality. What do you skeptics think of quantum physics? Your version of the world is about to get blown off the map.
    “Bunk” eh? we shall soon see…

  28. alowishus says:

    I’ve studied mindfulness meditation (via Jon Kabat-zinn). I find that running sans ‘pod or any other distractions can be a very good way to practice mindfulness. Concentrate on steady cadence and your breath. It’s a great meditation.

    Unfortunately I’m completely falling apart and can’t run anymore. Totally sleep deprived (raising a teething baby) and I simply can’t recover from even a short run. I can only manage walks, stretching and some light weight work. Maybe a bike ride here and there. Anything else on six hours a sleep a night and I’m useless. Why am I sharing this? Donno. Maybe to see if anyone else feels the same way. I mean, I know plenty of people who get six to seven hours shut eye a night and can still manage to work out without feeling like a zombie (the President, for example).

    But maybe I’ll pick up a pair of these flat running shoes, study this technique, and give it a try again. My old running shoes are shot anyway.

    • Anonymous says:

      Most people do need more sleep, but you should also consider that pregnancy and nursing take a lot out of your body. Make sure you’re getting proper nutrition and not trying to lose post-baby weight too quickly.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      Anything else on six hours a sleep a night and I’m useless. Why am I sharing this? Donno. Maybe to see if anyone else feels the same way.

      Most people need 8 – 9 hours. Some people only need 6. It’s familial and probably genetic. There was a study.

    • robulus says:

      @Alowishus

      Don’t sweat it too much, when they’re new and not sleeping you have to roll with it, and discover you can push past some different barriers from those you’ve pushed past before.

      Something closely resembling normality will return. The first six months are the worst. (Your baby is 8 months old?) The second six months are the worst.

  29. Nword says:

    Tai chi isn’t something magical, it’s just slow martial arts which help a good bit with strength, balance, health and mobility, without causing undue stress.

    Some of the practitioners assign mystical powers to it, but viewed purely as an exercise, it has a lot of benefits, especially for older folks.

  30. kosmograd says:

    @robulus Few people actually ride a bike with anything like an efficient pedalling action. You need to unlearn a lot of bad habits and focus on delivering power through the pedals evenly throughout the whole stroke, not just mashing the pedals on the down stroke. The French have a word for it – souplesse.

  31. Anonymous says:

    Well maybe this explains why I’ve always found running to be too painful to do.

    Now if someone could explain how runners handle the winter, I might actually give it a go.

  32. Kyle Armbruster says:

    I have been really interested in this recent increase in running-related press.

    I ran long distance in high school, but during college I found that I couldn’t do it anymore because of my knees. They crap out long before I’m tired. And they hurt for a week after that.

    I kept getting thicker and thicker-soled shoes, trying to eat up all that impact, but none of it worked, and lately, it seems that I’m not the only one with that problem.

    As for the “mindfulness” component of this method, that is the only way I can run. I’ve never been able to run with an iPod or whatever. It doesn’t allow me to get into the trance that allows me to keep going. I don’t like to talk while I run or listen to music or think. If I can, I like to get into what–until now–I didn’t really think to call a meditative state, but that’s exactly what it is.

    Lately I’ve been gaining hope that I might be able to run again. I was never very good, but I always enjoyed it.

    Thanks for the article, Lisa!

  33. petergarner says:

    @Tzctlp Exactly.

    I’ve been ChiRunning for two years and it’s fantastic. The book gets a little touchy-feely at times, which, I agree, is a bit of a downer, but the technique itself is sound. My terrible shin splints simply disappeared, never to return, after I started ChiRunning, and I went from being a 5’10″/k runner to a 4’40″/k runner almost overnight.

    So I can see why it might seem like magic. :D

  34. MrJM says:

    As a young adult, I only ran when obligated by my military commitment. That service-related running ended with two very injured knees. I eventually had to wear neoprene kneebraces just to hobble around.

    But after 15 years of never running, I decided to approach running in the same semi-scientific manner that I approach other problems, i.e. I would “learn how to run”.

    Of all the books I studied in preparation, “ChiRunning” by Danny Dreyer and Katherine Dreyer was by far the most helpful. They were the only ones to discuss how my punishing form — toes slightly outward, hammering my heel in long strides — was the source of my painful running. Seems obvious in retrospect, but it was a revelation.

    Now after slowly applying the ChiRunning techniques, I’ve completed a short triathalon and plan to keep going. (Oh, and I’ve lost 12 inches around my waist.)

    I highly recommend ChiRunning for any non-runner — or long-time non-runner like myself — who wants to experience the joy of moving quickly (and painlessly) under your own speed.

    Seriously.

    – MrJM

  35. Anonymous says:

    I can’t say I’ve done any Chi running, but I am (now) a barefoot runner.

    I have been running ~3-4 miles a day with Vibram 5-fingers (KSO) for the last two months (having used the Nike Free 5.0 shoe for several months before that).

    At first, my calves were indeed sore, but that went away after a few days. Other than that, I have been enjoying the added tactile feedback that I now receive in my toes.

    As mentioned, it was totally natural to stop running on my heels (as I did with conventional shoes); I now run on the front of my foot.

    If you get 5-fingers (they retail for about $85 in the USA), try them on first (i.e., don’t order them online based only on current shoe size), as they run small. I also found them to be a little slippery, but I hear that Vibram is coming out with an improved model. If so, I’ll try that.

    Oh, and no, I don’t work for Vibram.

  36. Anonymous says:

    i’ve been running in 5Fingers for about a month now… it took 4 weeks before the form became natural, but it did eventually come.

    and then i pulled a muscle in my calf … no shin splints, but all kinds of other things hurt, instead.

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