The thinking behind this method of running instruction (see chirunning .com) is that relaxing your body and becoming more mindful of your form and cadence can reduce the impact on your joints and help you go further, faster and longer using less energy. “The relaxation component is related to tai chi,” explains Asheville, N.C.-based ChiRunning co-founder Danny Dreyer. “Relaxing your extremities allows your body to move more naturally. When certain muscles hold tension, it causes others to work harder and throws off your alignment and mechanics.” The training also focuses on proper posture, with shoulders, hips and ankles aligned (like skiing), an engaged core and a slight forward lean from the ankles. “Chi propulsion comes from falling forward,” explains Dreyer. “Gravity pulls you, so [your running] is not forced.” Becoming keenly aware of your movements pulls it together. “It’s about deeply listening to your body, which will always tell you how you’re doing, what feels good and when you should stop,” Dreyer explains.
Fast-track tip: Loosen limbs prerun by literally shaking them out. “Stand on one leg and shake the other, allowing the muscles to go flaccid,” Dreyer says. “Then stand with your arms extended and twist from side to side, allowing your arms and shoulders to swing.”
Pros: It’s easy to personalize and, when mastered, it’s been shown to reduce impact on your joints and help prevent injury (Dreyer encourages mindfully trying to land on the midfoot and hit the ground softly).
Cons: None—unless you’re the type who just can’t be mindful. Of course, attempting to become more aware of your movements could actually help you learn to tune in.