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Oklahoma Sports and Fitness September/October 2012 : Page 44

GOT CHI? A Mindful Approach To Running There is nothing like a run to make you feel alive, vibrant, and at peace. When I run, I have time to think. Simple answers often come to seemingly complex questions. For me, running is often a source of energy and freedom. I look forward to a good run to clear my mind and put life's issues into healthy perspective. But despite its many physical and mental benefits, running is considered by many to be a high-injury sport. For many years, people have believed that running causes pain and injury and is actually harmful to the body. Others might say that running is hard work, and you must be healthy and fit to run. However, this is only true if your running technique is inefficient. And while studies show that over 50-60% of runners have to stop running due to injury every year -you don’t have to be part of that statistic. ChiRunning is a "mindful" approach to running that is taking off locally and turning health and fitness filled visions into a reality for many, from beginning runners and injured athletes to elite performance athletes. Ac -cording to , the practice, which blends key concepts from the ancient martial art form of T'ai Chi with optimal run-ning techniques, has gained media attention worldwide from sources such as The New York Times , NPR , and ABC News . ChiRunning is different from other running methods in the public today. It emphasizes holistic movement through the body's fascia, muscles, bones, tendons, and ligaments. Most running styles rely solely on muscle and bone biomechanics. The practice makes running more natural and more enjoyable, even for beginning runners. the technique of ChiRunning, and authored the book, ChiRunning . Dreyer has a running career that spans over forty years. In his 20s, he em-barked on a more attentive approach to fitness and began training for ultra-marathons as a meditative practice. During this time, a friend introduced him to his first T'ai Chi Master, who, according to Dreyer, forever altered his future. Pick up Dreyer's book, and you will quickly realize it is not just about running. It truly is a process of discovery. It's taught me to appreciate the positive ben-efits of running without the worry of injury. Through ChiRunning, I've learned to relax, and include a healthy conversation between my mind and body. Am I moving forward efficient -ly? Are my toes, feet and lower legs relaxed? Where is my energy coming from? It's kept me more in touch with my body, my actions, and the results of my actions. The Flow of Energy One of the things T'ai Chi teaches is to di-rect movement from points along our spine. It should originate from the centerline of our body instead of the periphery. A great example comes straight from nature. We know that the strength of a tree lies in its trunk, not in the branches and leaves. Better yet, look at the movement of a cheetah, the fastest land animal on the earth. It has skinny legs! The secret lies in its spine, where a majority of its "chi" is contained. Beyond bringing us immediate joy, running can provide long-lasting life benefits. It can give us a healthy escape from a difficult day or a disappointing circumstance. It's like having a good friend always there waiting to lift our spirits. It can give us a tremendous sense of accomplishment, power, and inner peace. If we're stressed, it's there to take away the tension. If we've overindulged, it's there to melt away the guilt. Running can truly strengthen the body and nourish the soul. Unfortunately, many of us have fallen victim to unanticipated injuries, untimely sickness, and inevitably --an aging body. After all of the time, effort and money expended to run our best, it may not seem fair when setbacks interrupt our progress. However, running itself does not hurt our bodies. It's the way we run that does the damage and causes the pain. BY SEAN CALL ChiRunning is about setting up conditions that make running easier, more efficient, and injury-free. Chi, pronounced "chee," is Chinese for energy or life force. Veteran marathoner and ultra-marathoner Danny Dreyer invented 44 SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2012 | OKSPORTSANDFITNESS.COM

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