When I signed up for the TriGoddess Triathlon, I knew I'd need some help in the running department. I've always liked the endorphin rush from running but the misaligned, aching hips I experienced post-running deterred me from hitting the pavement on a regular basis.
Then a friend turned me on to ChiRunning, a technique detailed in Danny and Katherine Dreyer's books and videos. Wow; I must say it's transformed my running style. And, given that so many of the principles dovetail with Pilates — good postural alignment, engaged core muscles, rib cage breathing, relaxed body and mind — it's been an easy switch.
3 areas I'm working on:
- The lean: A slight lean forward from the ankles acts like my gas pedal. When I want to run faster, I lean further forward. When I want to slow down, I lean back. In either case I feel the change in my core.
- Pelvic rotation: Instead of running stiffly forward, I allow a gentle twist along my spine and imagine my legs swinging from a Pivot Point at T12/L1. In addition to helping me reduce bouncing and increase stride length, this seems to relax my lower body and allows me to run farther with less effort.
- Breathing: Despite all the Pilates breathing I've practiced for years, I'm lousy at the ChiRunning method of exhaling for three strides and inhaling for two. Alas, I'll keep working on matching my breathing to cadence and hope to have it in sync by race day.
The great thing about this TriTraining is that the clarity and focus are spilling over into the rest of my life. Everything is simply flowing, and I feel like I can conquer ChiRunning or anything else that comes my way. And the view of Lake Superior is truly an amazing, centering way to start the day...
Leslie Hamp, Creative Catalyst