The Proper Way
Danny Dreyer is a running coach and author (based out of Asheville, NC) that teaches people (both runners and walkers) how to move their bodies more efficiently. The basis of Danny’s methods are anchored in Tai Chi, hence the name ‘Chi Running’. Danny has studied Tai Chi for over 15yrs and is still filled with passion when speaking about the ethos of Tai Chi. “Tai Chi is all about moving from your center, your core, and not from your arms and legs” Danny tells me, “Most people think that running is all about moving your arms and legs but when you change that way of thinking and movement running becomes a much more enjoyable and safer activity.”
With the Chi Running method Danny teaches how to use your powerful core muscles and engage those muscles to facilitate running more efficiently and with less effort. “When you’re using this technique you’re using big strong core muscles that don’t tire out as quickly as your arms and legs” Danny teaches.
Danny estimates that he’s taught over one million people the Chi Method of running.
“Most people run really well when they are kids” Danny says, “but life takes a toll on your body over time and it changes the way you tend to move your body.” Starting out in the Chi Running method is like hitting the reset button at first. “If you watch kids run, they typically run with a natural forward lean as though they were sort of falling forward,” Danny explains, “Because kids don’t have strong leg muscles kids lean forward and utilize gravity to assist them in moving their bodies forward.”
It’s important that your body has really good posture in order to make the method work. Your body has to have a strong core in order to have really good posture and in order to apply the Chi Running method.
You have to mindful of your body and what is trying to tell you. It’s not enough to just listen to your body, you also have to respond to what your body is telling you. “For example, if you’re working at a desk slumping forward and your neck starts hurting, you need to correct your posture and sit up to correct your posture and relieve that tension and pain.”
Danny developed Chi Running while training as an ultra-marathoner. While training for his first 50 mile race he was introduced to his first Tai Chi instructor. “After one class I applied some of the body movements from Tai Chi to my running form. After one application the results were remarkable. I ran the same time but my body didn’t feel like it at all.”
Body Sensing & Mindfulness
The traditional methods of physical therapy and training are centered around strengthening the muscles around the area of injury. Chi running is a mindful practice that trains you to listen to you body and correct the problem before it becomes an injury. If you feel a twinge or problem, you listen to your body and change it so that you can keep moving without doing any further harm.
Having a clear mindset is knowing ahead of time what your goals are and developing a plan to get there.
If you want to do something in your life, have a reason for it. Have a reason that benefits you. This makes all the difference once you get into a training program. The person that get’s in the middle of a training program without clear goals is going to struggle. They’ll struggle to get started, maintain momentum, and struggle to recall what they are working for and working towards.
Chi Running reduces the amount of impact when you run. Two-thirds of all runners get an injury each year that interrupts that runners’ training program. Two-thirst is a LOT! “If the CDC got a hold of statistics like this, they might consider banning running” Danny explains.
There are two ways that people get injured while running:
1) Impact: Simply banging your feet on the ground can cause knee and back problems for the high impact effects of movement.
2) Overuse: These are people that push too hard, train beyond their limits, do not allow enough recovery for their bodies.
We teach people to run across the ground instead of into the ground. You want to glide across the running surface instead of banging your body against the surface causing high impact stress on the body. We change running techniques from pushing themselves around with their legs to falling forward and working to keep from falling.
You don’t see elite runnings running with their legs out in front of them.
The moving parts of you body need to loose, lean, and relaxed so they can openly flow when the core needs to be very strong to super very good posture.
Chi Walking takes the same principles of Chi Running and applies those principles to walking. “If you notice people walking around you will notice that most people lead with their hips and their legs. Their shoulders and back and they walk leading with their hips and legs out in front” Danny points out, “If you throw your leg out in front of you, you lock out your knee in front of you.” A little lean added to your gait will engage your core and increase the efficiency of walking.
This method shortens your stride length and decreases the impact with your walking surface due the effects of ‘rolling on the soles of your shoes’ that occurs while leaning forward (ever so slightly).
I love half-marathons because it’s just long enough a distance that it forces a person to seek out a more efficient technique of running.
The effects of improving your running spill into other aspects of your life. “Can you imagine improving your posture and core body strength while safely improving your running efficiency?” Danny asks, “Now imagine that same person needs to go ask their boss for a raise.” You can imagine the improved perception and confidence that person gains through running safely and efficiently.
“It’s not running that hurts your body, it’s the way you run” Danny Dreyer