Would you like to feel light, pain-free and amazing when you run? Would you like to run faster, further and with less effort?
I'm sharing with you below 2 of my favorite running tips that helped me to run like this. Follow these tips and you'll be running pain-free, easier, faster and further than ever before.
Run Like a Child
Many runners think that effort, strength, power and hard work will help them to run faster, further and meet their goals, such as losing weight, staying healthy, improving fitness or competing in a race.
This belief is due to the attitude we've been encouraged to have towards our education, career and competitive sports. Success comes with hard work and effort, right?
Well, not in the case of running. I don't believe running fits into this category. Of course there must be some sense of effort, otherwise we wouldn't even go out for a run!
I'd like you to consider this 'effort' in running meaning having awareness, being intentional and mindful, rather than effort meaning hard work.
Visualize a child running. Children do not use effort nor hard work when they run. They don't stride out with their legs, using any strength or power they've built up at the gym.
Children just run! They have a natural lean from their ankles, they keep their gaze on the prize, i.e. where they are headed, and they let gravity propel them forwards. Children appear to glide forward with ease, leading from the upper body, and their legs seem to swing to the rear. They are totally relaxed, present and happy. There is no strength and not much effort.
Children never seem to tire because their legs are relaxed and gravity is doing all the work.
Yes, this is our natural running form and how we were Born To Run!
So why do we not all still run like this?
My belief is that we have lost our natural running form because we've spent many years not running and not being playful like children. Adults don't run around like kids do (or like kids used to do before they had computers and smart phones). I believe we've also built up a lot of physical tension in our bodies over the years, due to stress, poor posture and inactivity. This tension prevents us from running naturally because our bodies no longer move so freely and openly as they did when we were children. As we age and build up physical tension, moving our body requires more effort.
That said, we can re-learn how to run like a child again. Read more below about how you can re-learn to run like a child!
For now, I want to share with you a fantastic photo of my beautiful niece, Kaia, when she was aged 2, running in the park in London, so natural, so happy, and so relaxed. She has a beautiful lean and gravity is propelling her towards her prize!
Engage and Run From Your Core
Many running injuries originate in the hips. It could be tightness, weakness, lack of mobility or a combination of all of these factors.
Tight hips often cause referred tightness, or even pain, down the hamstrings and ITBs, to the knees, ankles and feet, contributing to pain in those areas.
Tight hips often cause low back pain, which can contribute to compression of the spinal vertebrae. Ouch.
Over time, tight and weak hips can create terrible wear and tear of the cartilage inside the hip joint, even causing arthritis later in life. Some people require hip replacements because there has been so much damage over the years due to the impact of running, walking or other sports
So how do we reduce this impact and still enjoy running and other sports?
Engaging the core can significantly reduce and even avoid hip issues and arthritis later in life, as well as other impact-related running injuries.
When the core is engaged, by leveling the pelvis, or finding a 'neutral pelvis', as shown in the diagram below, the hips are stabilized so that there is no side to side swinging of the hips. This side to side swinging is what causes hip joint damage and wear and tear over time. With a neutral pelvis, and core engaged, the hip muscles are able to work more efficiently and even become stronger as they are engaged correctly, without merely becoming tighter and tighter with every step.
While keeping this neutral pelvis, it's important to also use the oblique muscles (the muscles on the sides of the core) and the lower back muscles. These are all considered part of the 'core'.
These muscles are used to rotate the hips, and actually relax the hips even more, as we run. Slight hip rotation will happen naturally if the hips are relaxed, although encouraging a litle hip rotation can help to relax the hips even more with every step. This hip rotation also increases and opens up the stride length, allowing us to run further within the same amount of time, and with the same amount of effort. We therefore run faster, because speed equals distance over time!
Isn't that one of our goals, to run faster? Well maybe not entirely. Many people love to run to stay healthy and fit, and to clear and relax the mind.
Wouldn't it be nice to run even a little faster, or at least feel more relaxed and controlled when you run?
The last point I want to cover about the core is related to a Tai Chi concept called 'needle in cotton'. Imagine the core being a needle (strong, stable and always aligned), and the legs and arms being cotton (relaxed, loose and flowing). With this sense of 'needle in cotton', running can truly become easier, more relaxed and more fluid, and you can begin running from the strength and stability of your core and your center of gravity. Doesn't that sound efficient?
So how can you put all this into practice, re-learn how to run like a child, and learn how to engage and align the core correctly?
The answer is to learn ChiRunning!
I learned ChiRunning in 2005 and it changed my life. I'm not kidding.
After years of injuries on and off, then chronic knee pain for the previous 3 years, I had almost decided in 2005 that I may never run again and I should take up cycling or swimming instead. I then saw a flyer for an Injury Free Running workshop and I figured I'd give it a shot. What had I to lose? Apart from $300. I was living in NYC at the time and $300 was the cost of a private lesson because I couldn't make the workshop date with my busy NYC schedule. I was so determined to run injury-free that I didn't even blink at paying $300.
Learning these 2 techniques above, plus many other techniques, drills and exercises during the ChiRunning class (yes, I got my money's worth), literally cured my knee pain overnight. What's more, I have never had a running injury since. I was so inspired after my transformation that I became a ChiRunning instructor so that I could share this amazing technique with others, just like yourself.
If you're inspired to re-learn how to relax and run like a child, prevent injuries and run pain free for the rest of your life, check out our Trail Running, Yoga and Wine Tasting Retreats, or our ChiRunning Workshops.
Feel free to leave any comment and questions in the comments section below and share with your friends on social media if you found this article helpful.
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