It's been well documented throughout my blog the troubled past I've had with injuries in recent years first with Shin Splints and latterly an as yet undiagnosed heel/ arch problem. Consequently I'm currently in the middle of an extended break from running. As happens when one is injured we look for reasons and answers as to why we get these injuries. We also look for improved training methods to try keep from repeating the mistakes of the past.
A book I have taken a keen interest in, while trying to learn about a more efficient and safer running form, is Danny Dreyer's book, Chi Running. Chi Running is more than just a fancy name. It's a philosophy, a mindset, a group of principles and focuses which when combined together show the reader in a clear and logical way what is I believe to be a truly safer method of running.
I've read this book three times mow and each time the simplicity of Danny's explanations continues to just make such common sense to me. Not only does Danny explain in clear terms the technique but he also explains the why and how of the technique from a physiological sense.
To summarise Chi Running, the technique that is, very briefly
1. Posture - it all starts with maintaining an upright posture from head to toe. Danny calls this your column.
2. The forward lean - lean slightly forward, from the ankle, engaging your core muscles to maintaining your posture. Danny refers to the lean as your gas pedal, increase the lean to increase the speed.
3. The landing - as a result of the forward lean, your feet should naturally be landing at the base of your column and behind your centre of gravity. You will be landing on your mid foot rather than heel striking. This cuts down on the stresses transferred to the knee from heavy heel striking.
4. Relax - another big part of Chi Running is learning to relax. Danny says to relax your lower body. Rather than pushing off with each stride, your lower legs should be hanging limply when you pick your feet up. One of my favorite lines in the book is "If you don't use it you can't abuse it" referring to common overuse injuries like shin splints.
The book is full of other helpful hints and tips, including strengthening exercises, injury prevention tips (again which mainly revolve around relaxing muscles rather than using them, training programmes, racing, diet, interesting tips on how to run up hills and downhills.
I'm convinced that this method of running is right for me and will help me to stay injury free when I start running again. If you've been troubled by persistent injuries and haven't been able to find the right answers then I reckon you're a good candidate for Chi Running also.