My 2nd 10K, 3 weeks back; At around the 6k mark just as the end goal of completing without issues seemed to be possible, my left knee felt sore. It wasn’t the 1st time I was experiencing this pain. It does come by during the “training runs” like an old unwelcome guest every now and then. To me, someone who is jut getting used to running long distances, my breath was already labored at this stage – this is the time when ( I’m aware of it) the mind is playing tricks giving you excuses to quit running. But, on the other hand I have been carrying the tendinitis pains on my right calf. The rationalization I had was that unconsciously my left leg was over compensating to prevent the right from having to commit fully to the stride so that the stretch during the stride does not cause a flare up of the tendinitis pain in the right calf.
Post the run, the pain was mildly present over the next couple of days. I avoided running fearing it could make things worse.
On the next run, exactly 3 days after, the knee pain was back. I realized that this was now a posture issue which needed correction along with strengthening the muscles around the knee that can absorb the impact thereby protect the knee from further damage. The search and reading cycle on the internet ensued and along the way I rediscovered Chi running, something I’d read about a few years back. The Chi running technique is supposed to minimize the impact on your joints while improving the efficiency of the run. To get started, it is recommended to correct the posture, coupled with a set of drills to imbibe the right Chi running form. Here are some of the drills that seemed to be easier to adopt for beginners that I will include in my training:
Heel Strike killer: (from: the guardian)
1) Stand with your feet pointing straight ahead, a hip-width apart.
2) Lengthen your spine so you’re feeling tall – raising your hands in the air above your head and allowing them to fall back can help, especially for corrections as you run.
3) Level your pelvis, which is generally tilted forwards. To do this, place one hand face down on your tummy with the thumb in your belly button and the other hand face up on your back directly opposite, then gently tip your pelvis back to a level position. You should feel your core muscles engage – but don’t go so far that your core becomes tense or that your glutes tighten.
4) Place both thumbs on the prominent front hip bone at the top of your legs and pivot forwards from there until you are balanced over your centre of gravity. For me, that meant leaning my top half forwards until I could just see the knot in the laces of my shoes when looking down – an extremely useful reference point which is key to the method for me.
5) Set a metronome at 180 beats per minute lean forwards (pivoting at the ankles) and let gravity do the work of moving you forwards.
Walking Spiderman Balancer :(from: running competitor)
From a standing position, take a long stride forward into a deep lunge position and lower the same-side elbow to the heel on the forward leg. From this position, drive off the forward foot, return to the upright position, and pull your trailing leg even with your forward leg. Repeat the movement with the opposite arm and leg. Continue lunging forward in a walking manner. Keep your chest up and try not to let the lower back round as you lunge.
Lander : (from: running competitor)
Concentrate on squeezing your right buttock the instant before your right foot touches the ground when you run, and doing the same on the left side. With the increase in stride rate, this one cannot be made permanent unless you do it consciously on every stride until it starts to happen automatically, which could take a few weeks.
Peg Leg: (ref: chirunning.com)
This exercise is best done walking. Use it as a warm up for a run; during the walking portion of your walk-run training plan; or whenever you’re just walking somewhere.
Walk as if you don’t have feet, as if your knees are what are directly in touch with the ground. Another image you could use is that you are walking on stilts. You should feel a set of muscles engage that you probably don’t feel while you are running. You’ll also probably notice your hips and hips flexors more than usual.
This drill helps engage your core, keeps your upper body forward, shortens your stride and helps you to completely relax your lower legs. All of these key components of good running form are contained in this simple exercise.
Walk using the Peg Leg image for a few minutes at a time, then run or walk while focusing on being aware of engaging the same muscles and a similar movement in the hips. Feel your posture while walking with Peg Legs, and maintain the same posture.
This is just a drill. It is not the way you want to run or walk all the time, but it helps inform your body of a more beneficial way to move.
Hold the Chi Ball: (ref: chirunning.com)
This exercise can be practiced first while standing, then while ChiWalking® or ChiRunning® in small intervals. Practice in first or second gear when you are running (not a good idea for 3rd or 4th gear).
Begin by aligning your posture with shoulders, hips and ankles in a line. Then, curve your arms out in front of you, chest-high, as if you’re holding a big exercise ball. Notice how bringing your arms into this position brings your upper body slightly forward and engages your core muscles. Holding the Chi Ball puts your body into a perfect posture that is ideal for walking and running. Just hold the Chi ball for 5-10 seconds at a time. Then, try to hold onto the same posture feeling as you let your arms fall slowly to your sides. Finally, bend your arms to 90 degrees and resume the normal rearward ChiRunning and ChiWalking arm swing.
Throughout this exercise keep your shoulders relaxed and your core will engage even more. Allow your legs to relax as well. When you focus on holding the Chi ball, your legs will naturally relax and you’ll feel your body pulled forward by gravity. Try to memorize that sensation and duplicate it.
Do the Chi Ball Exercise for ten seconds every two minutes, until your body moves naturally and with good posture.