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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.

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.

Step 6: Start Slow

When you begin to run, take it gradually, says Dreyer. "Practice your posture. Really memorize what it feels like to have good posture. Feel yourself standing in straight line. Practice alternating do on one foot, then switch. Shift weight back and forth. Feel yourself keeping posture line straight while on one foot a time."

Then, it's time for a little jog. Connect with your posture. Feel your feet down at the bottom of your posture line. Start to jog slowly. When one foot hits the ground, feel it hitting at bottom of your posture line. Practice moving from one foot to the next, taking baby steps."

"Speed is not a factor here," Dreyer says. "That's the very last thing you should think about. You're working on form -- holding it little bit longer each time. Stretch that over a block, two blocks, three blocks. That's building distance, until you can hold your form over distance."

It's True: Mind Over Matter Works

Sports physiologists have long known that "there's a huge connection between self-talk and running," says Tom Holland, MS, exercise physiologist, sports performance coach, and lecturer for the American Running Association.

Whether you call it ChiRunning, or mindful running, the research is clear. "Studies show that when athletes dissociate, when they wear a walkman when they run, they don't do as well," Holland tells WebMD. "Many runners want to think of anything but the running. But our thoughts literally change our physiologic reactions. Our thoughts are performance cues. When you do positive self-talk, you do fine."

When you begin to run, take it slow, he says. "Get outside the door. Set short term and long term goals. Plan to run, but take walking breaks. We're debunking the myth that walking is bad. The goal is to get somewhere with the least effort."

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