Sunday, January 17, 2010

ChiRunning, Tarahumara style and Uechi-ryu - a powerful combination



I'll admit that waiting for the doctor to green-light my running is a little frustrating. I have finished my medicine and I feel as strong as I ever have. My appetite has come back in full force and really want to get outside and move. I could probably get away with a run today but I won't. I know I can run so what else do I need to prove?

Yesterday I spent some time at a Waldenbooks store at a local mall. Apparently the parent company, Borders, is closing 200 stores and this one was in its final days, selling off merchandise and books at deep discounts. There wasn't a lot of inventory left and nothing was in order but I managed to find a copy of ChiRunning discounted to $7 so I snapped that up. Since reading "Born to Run" by Christopher McDougall I've been intrigued by techniques that promote a more natural running style. In Born to Run, the author writes about the running style of the Tarahumara natives of Mexico who practice a style of shorter, more frequent steps combined with mid and front foot striking. It's definitely an efficient style of running and my experiments (prior to my pneumonia crash) showed that I could run faster with much less effort.

ChiRunning has many similar concepts. The author of the book, Danny Dreyer, uses the concept of Chi, a way of centering and directing energy, to help perfect his running style. Between what I am learning from about ChiRunning (not much at this point since there is a prologue, an introduction and three expository chapters before you get to the actual techniques) and what I've learned through my years of martial arts training, I am understanding where there may be some real opportunity to increase performance. Dreyer credits a T'ai Chi master who taught him about Chi and helped adapt the idea to running.

The increase in cadence with the Tarahumara style, the balance of martial arts transitioning and the forward lean and mid/front striking (common to both Chi and Tarahumara running) seem to be great combination. I am hoping I get the go-ahead for Monday so I can begin my rebuilding process for running.

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