In ChiRunning®, the #running approach is to land mid-foot (full-foot) under your column and allow a circular wheel behind you with your heels. Visually, this is similar to the Road Runner cartoon, see an example of this here: http://smchurchi.files.wordpress.com/2007/08/roadrunner-original.jpg.
The focus is to allow the knee to bend and to not consciously lift the knee. Lifting the knee brings the leg forward and allows it to land in front of the body (Blog: ChiRunning Natural Running Technique). Bending the knee creates a vertical arc with the feet. See the diagram below showing this orange arc.
But, how can we use other focuses to create this wheel? Recently I was on a trail run and I came to a meadow. The grass was very wet. I don’t mind getting my shoes wet but I decided to use the wet grass as a test of my wheel. I decided to see if I could run across the meadow without getting my shoes wet. This required me to not only be light on my feet but to also allow this vertical arc motion with my feet as I land mid-foot, peel my foot off the ground and then heel lift by allowing each knee to bend. The resulting vertical arc motion of my feet combined with the horizontal forward motion of my body creates the circular motion. This ‘land, peel and lift’ focus kept my feet/legs from shuffling horizontally – and my feet from landing in front of me. This also kept my feet dry (OK, ‘dry-er’) as I minimized the horizontal contact with the wet grass.
At the same time I added auditory feedback to make as little noise against the wet blades of grass as possible. This again supported the land, peel and lift motion of my feet. Even though the grass was relatively high, about 5-6″, my feet stayed relatively dry. I was running with someone (a non-ChiRunner) and the noise, splashing and then resulting sloshing/squeaking/etc from very wet feet was evident. This all due to horizontal motion of the feet – and therefore lots of horizontal contact with wet grass.
So the next time you come to grass (wet or dry), try to run across it without making horizontal contact with the blades of grass. Land vertically, peel and allow heel lift vertically. Then, imagine running across wet ‘grass’ no matter what surface you are on.
This is just one of the many simple focuses used to visualize and to obtain feedback as you practice your ChiRunning technique. For more information on ChiRunning, see the website at http://www.ChiRunning.com.
Thoughts on this post? Leave your comment or question below and join the discussion …
David Stretanski is a holistic health, fitness and wellness coach and Certified ChiRunning®/ChiWalking® Instructor. For more information on David, please see his About Me, Contact page or his website at http://www.eChiFitness.com.
ChiRunning® and ChiWalking® are registered trademarks of ChiLiving, Inc.