One-Legged Running

July 30, 2012 at 8:42 pm 2 comments

As I’ve said over and over again in the short life of my little blog: posture, posture, posture.

Why posture?

“When your posture is correct, energy or chi flows through your body unhindered. Running with your posture out of alignment can create tension, fatigue, discomfort and even pain. When your posture is aligned properly, your structure is supporting the weight of your body instead of your muscles.” I’ll have some of that, please!

I’ve been mindful of my posture for a while now and while I lapse often, especially at work, I’m getting there. I also can’t wait to get back home and start sitting on my ball chair that showed up right before I hit the road! I’ll be sure to write a review once I start sitting on it.

But it’s one thing to practice posture when sitting or even walking, and then putting it into practice while running. The last exercise of the posture focus in the chi running book is the one-legged stance exercise. It’s really straightforward. You stand in your good posture stance (aka mountain pose with feet close together)  and alternate lifting each foot until your shin is 90 degrees parallel to the floor. Really feel your lower foot grounded each time and alternate. That’s it. That’s your support stance. As I’ve also said before, chi running is about learning to transfer your weight from one leg to another, as opposed to pushing off and working harder than you need to, and training your core to do the work. The one-legged stance gets you there and practicing it is important because, basically, and prepare yourself because this will blow your mind, chi running is simply a series of one-legged stances.

In chi running, “all you have to do is pick up your feet to keep up with your forward fall.” 

All you have to do is pick up your feet.

All you have to do is pick up your feet.

This was my mantra for the last few runs because it’s simple and I have a tendency to over think processes. I often hem and haw over details and then finally just buckle down and get it done. For me though, even if I feel like I’ve wasted time, it’s just my process and it’s a process of preparation and learning. So I decided yesterday that I’ve been preparing for a while and holding myself back and that I just needed to go for a run like I used to and see where it took me.

I left my hotel (I’m in a suburb of Portland, OR) today after work and after a bit of walking and some looseners, I started running. For the first mile I felt pretty good. I felt relaxed and my stride felt effortless. I was running to the metronome and practicing using my y’chi (I’ll cover this in a post later) and just lifting my feet. I was also practicing my body sensing and was playing with my lean. Another mind blowing fun fact I read the other day was that if you lean too far you can still give yourself shin splints because then your calves have to do the work to hold you up. My lean needs some work–I can’t tell yet if I’m leaning too far or not enough–but in terms of my lower body focus and doing the one-legged running, it felt good and effortless.

I ran down the road and enjoyed exploring the area. It’s pretty.

I passed a park and then came upon a trail. It was just a small connector trail that ran under I-5 for probably a quarter mile, but it was also pretty, and lined with blackberry bushes. There are so many blackberry bushes in Oregon! Or maybe they’re marionberry bushes, but either way they’ve been all over the place west of the Cascades and I want to eat all of them.

By this point in my run I was starting to tense up and was struggling to relax. My calves were getting tight and I took that as a sign that I was still pushing off instead of relying on gravity, or maybe leaning too far, or maybe both. Again, it’s the lean I have to work on next. But to relax I just started walking and trying to shake out my limbs. I also ran a few feet in my old form and immediately was in pain and the lumbering, stomping, clumsy running felt so awful! I think in my moments of frustration, I should run like I used to and remind myself that I actually am making progress.

In addition to just lifting my legs, trying to relax, engaging my core, and finding my lean window, I also started practicing my pelvic rotations. I didn’t get very far with it but I had one tiny glimpse of what it might be like to run with my pelvis truly allowing my legs to swing up behind me. I can do it while walking but at this point it’s a little too much to think about while running.

After passing back under 1-5, I turned around and headed back to the hotel, alternating walking and running. I passed some office buildings and used the mirror glass to check out my form, which was a bad idea. I think at that point I was getting fatigued and I was definitely not relaxed anymore and I thought I looked awful. It looked like I was breaking at the waist and not leaning at all. I started feeling down on myself and getting frustrated. But now, as I reflect back on the moments of success,  instead of wallowing in the frustrations I just have to keep reminding myself of what it felt like to run with my old form and to remember the moments I had with the effortless feeling. Also, each time I run, the effortless feeling lasts a little bit longer. That’s pretty sweet.

Another thing that’s pretty sweet is remembering to stop and look up.

And getting to hang out in random, beautiful places.

Ooh and I topped off the workout with a delicious recovery shake of organic marionberries, blueberries and passion fruit coconut water. Yuuuuuuuum!

Tomorrow is another travel day but Wednesday hopefully I’ll be back to write about the next form focus: leaning. In the meantime stay tuned and answer me this: how do you work on your posture?

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Entry filed under: Body Sensing, Chi Running, Posture, Relaxation. Tags: , , , , , , , .

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