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Mindful Chi Running

To run without injury, take a lesson from the Far East. Get focused, loosen up - and get out there.
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Step 2: Sense Your Body

Pay close attention to what your body is doing. Practice listening to any little nuances that you can detect. Feel your foot hitting the ground. Feel your posture.

Is your body moving in the way you intended it to? Is your movement easier or more difficult? Are there subtle changes you should make?

As you begin running, you must develop body sense. Then you will become your own best teacher and coach, says Dreyer.

Step 3: Breathe to Tap Into Chi

The more efficiently your body can take in oxygen, the easier running will feel, Dreyer explains. If you're not breathing deeply into your lower lungs, you're not getting as much air as you could -- a common problem when people begin running.

To belly-breathe, stand or sit and place your hands over your belly button. Now purse your lips as if you're trying to blow a candle out, and exhale, emptying your lungs by pulling in your belly button toward your spine. When you've blown out as much air as you can, relax your belly and the inhale will occur naturally.

Practice breathing out for three steps, breathing in for two steps. Try matching your breath with your cadence.

Step 4: Relax Your Muscles

Tight muscles can't get the oxygen they need. The cure is easy: Just relax! Don't take yourself so seriously. Drop your shoulders. Smile. Relax your glutes. Float like a butterfly... lighten up, says Dreyer.

When muscles are loose and relaxed, the oxygen carried in your blood can enter the muscle cells much more easily than if your muscles are tense. Keep telling your muscles, "Softer is better!"

Step 5: Practice Good Posture

Having good running posture is the cornerstone of ChiRunning. When your posture is correct, energy or chi flows through your body unhindered, he explains.

Your aligned body has a centerline that runs from head to foot. It is the "steel" that supports your body, which allows your arms and legs to relax. Running with your posture out of alignment creates tension and fatigue.

Stand in front of a mirror. Straighten your upper body. Then look down at your feet. If you can see your shoelaces, it's a good bet that your dots are connected in a straight line - perfect. Memorize how this feels. Practice it.

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