Effortless Running · 13 July 2013

There are times when I have felt like I was running effortlessly. I want to run that way all the time.

I just read an interesting book on running called, Chi Marathon by Danny and Katherine Dreyer. While I have not signed up to run a marathon yet, applying the concepts is helping me figure out how to run with less effort.

The main concept of chi running as explained in Chi Marathon is to let your ligaments and tendons and gravity do most of the running work instead of your leg muscles. There is, of course, more to it than that, but essentially, all you really need to do is lean and stay balanced.

I am not there yet, but I can see how all the work I have done in the past has built up to this type of running. As a matter of fact, I read one of my old posts (see Running Form) and realized that it was pointing me to effortless running long before I read Chi Marathon.

In that old post, I thought I was contradicting my own thoughts on how we are supposed to run. It seemed that my thought process was leading to letting my hands and arms flail willy nilly across my body instead of working hard to keep them moving in a straight line following my running direction.

In reality, I have found that running with my arms pumping straight forward and backward is indeed the way run. At least it is part of sprinting. But even while sprinting, engaging the hips and using the lower abdominal muscles to move the legs is much more efficient that trying to reach forward using the leg muscles. (Again, there is more to the concept than what I have mentioned here, but we can run efficiently at any speed if we learn the proper techniques.)

Unfortunately, as I was working to keep my hands and arms moving straight forward and backward like a sprinter, I was hampering my hip movement. I ended up trying to keep my hips always aligned perpendicular to my motion, which kept me from engaging my abdominals. I was not running efficiently or effortlessly. I was plodding along trying too hard. For even though my arms were not wasting any motion, my body was. Then, when I started engaging my hips and abs, my arms seemed to be out of sync (again, see the old post).

What I have found is that as long as I do not let my hands cross my body’s centerline, I am really not being inefficient. I am relaxed and letting gravity do most of the work. Especially, when I relax my body, rotate my hips, let my feet fly out behind me, and allow my arms to follow a circular (rather than linear) path.

I am not sure exactly where the notion of Chi Running will take me, but I want to be as efficient a runner as I can be. And that means letting gravity do its work while using my own body in ways that use little energy. Like I said, I have felt it at times, but now that I know a little more about how to do it, I always want to have effortless running.

© 2013 Michael T. Miyoshi

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