Way back when I was first getting serious about running, around 2010 or so, I had some issues. My feet would hurt and that made my ankles hurt and I just couldn’t figure it out. I went to a podiatrist, who charged an obscene amount of money to provide a temporary solution. I thought that there must be a better way.
The search for that better way led me to find the book Chi Running by Danny Dreyer. I read the entire book at that time, but I glossed over a lot of it. I wanted the solution, and this book does have an entire chapter near the end with some tips about how to avoid running injury by changing one’s gait.
I mean, I did try Chi Running. I gave it a shot, but I just never was able to fully do it. I got frustrated and gave up on everything but the parts of the technique that prevented me from injuring myself. As long as I ran on a regular basis, my ilio-tibial band would be calm and not painful. I still ran very slowly, but I didn’t get a lot of running related injuries. Those that I did get were more from not paying attention, like the time I tried to joke with someone while doing a run for a CrossFit workout and ended up rolling my ankle.
Over the years, I have kept up the techniques that help me run, but I didn’t reread the book or try the more advanced techniques again. And then my brother and I friended each other on MapMyRun, and I noticed that he was having some consistent pain issues with his knees from running. I told him about the book, and he read it. I figured since he had done cross-country in high school, he knew how to run for racing and as a youth, but might benefit from an update in technique for running for life. And since then, the knee pain reports have definitely decreased in frequency.
But when he tried to talk to me about the book and the techniques, I had to confess that I hadn’t reread it in years and didn’t really know what he was talking about. That inspired me to reread it. I have been rereading it for months now. I’m taking it nice and slow, because I have found that I can now do some of those things that I couldn’t before.
Growing up, I had terrible posture – the hazards of being a bookworm. I believe that resulted in my back muscles being fairly underdeveloped. But between my initial read of Chi Running and my most recent, I did a lot of CrossFit. I achieved a strict pull up. My core, including that back, is stronger than it’s ever been.
In the last couple of weeks, I’ve noticed something new about my long runs. The more I focus on the Chi Running techniques, the more sore my back gets in the days after the run. I feel like I now have sufficient muscle to use the techniques, and that use is increasing their strength and endurance.
In fact, I can tell those muscles are stronger, because I’m able to sit up straight and type this without falling into a tired slouch. In fact, my new straight posture even feels nice and relaxed. I’ve never felt so comfortable with good posture before!
So I’m going to keep going with the Chi Running techniques and try to really master it while running my nice slow pace. And, maybe, just maybe, in another few weeks or months, I’ll be able to ramp up the speed without having to work harder – just smarter.