Paging through the Kripalu catalog offerings this summer, I noticed a workshop for Mindful Chirunning. A yoga and health retreat center tucked away in the Berkshires of Massachusetts, Kripalu has a wonderful location atop a knoll, a sparkling lake at the base and Tanglewood just down the road. With the classes at the Kripalu center, it was possible to slip into a few yoga sessinss and lectures on various mind and body topics between and after our workshops.
The program dates worked with some other New England stops on the summer agenda, so my opportunity was right for a contemplative and studied approach to my running.
The loss of my trusted Garmin 305 which stopped working a week before the workshop was one less diversion from the Chi lessons.
Along with the great location and perfect timing, the Chirunning workshop continued me on the current path of working on some alignment issues.
Most days, we participated in three daily sessions, resulting in multiple daily showers, a large laundry bag and many notes and helpful feedback to take home. We worked in large and small groups and received individual direction and correction from the corps of excellent Chirunning trainers.
The Chirunning technique developed by Danny Dreyer and based on Tai Chi movement, uses the runner’s energy, or chi, for running efficiency and modeled to help reduce or prevent injuries. Some of the forms of the technique include a subtle forward lean assisted by gravity, a midfoot strike, engagement of the body’s core and a mind-body connection – doing an occasional check-in on form focuses while running. Increased speed is not a promised outcome, but some runners find that it just happens as a very nice side effect.
Individual film analysis has been helpful for me and I continue to work on my own to make the form focuses a habit. During my initial filming, the instructors identified some correction areas:
- the ‘splay’ of my right foot. I had been working through some exercises to correct this and they offered more tips to eventually correct. A work in progress but it is coming along.
- Shoulders hunched close to my ears (another work-in-progress correction).
- Moderate heel strike.
By the final filming on Thursday, I had made progress (but not eliminated) the splay, improved relaxation in my shoulders, held the correct posture and was landing with midfoot.
Overall, my cadence and breathing are good and didn’t need much in the way of correction.
Each runner or walker in the workshop had slightly different modifications to make and it was interesting to watch how each of us was able to concentrate and improve during the five days.
The last session of the week included a 6:30 a.m. optional trail run. Behind Kripalu, past Monk’s Pond to Olivia’s Overlook, there were plenty of rocks and roots to keep the mind focused and plenty of opportunity to put Danny’s tips for trail running into use.
Life crests another hill this year and I can see my seventh decade out in the distance. There is no sure thing, but my plan is to employ the Chirunning techniques and use the individual critiques to ensure that my running form will enable me to continue running far into the future.