Running, The Tai Chi Way

A friend of mine is learning how to run. Or maybe I should say that she's re-learning how to run.

Like most people, she assumed that she already knew how to run. But after working with a fitness coach for a few weeks, she realized that she had much to learn. And now she tells me that running—a form of exercise that we'd previously agreed is no fun at all—is awesome.

Personally, I've never once thought running was fun or experienced any kind of runner's high. In fact, running is something I can't do at all, and it's embarrassing to admit it. I can sprint through an airport when the situation demands, hike up steep mountains for hours, and ride my bike for 50 miles without much trouble. But I'm pretty sure that I couldn't run a mile.

I've always envied people who are able to run, because it seems like a perfect workout: it's simple, quick, effective, relatively gear-free, and doesn't require a gym membership. Due to "bum legs," however, my cardio workouts are limited to cycling (requires a lot of gear and time), spin classes, and the elliptical trainer (requires a gym membership.)

Countless attempts to start jogging have only resulted in a lot of wincing and groaning (the result of painful shin splints), expensive running shoes, and, inevitably, defeat.

But it never occured to me that the problem is that I might not know how to run.

After witnessing my friend's change of heart, however, I am optimistic once again. I'd heard about Chi Running, a form of running that promises to help athletes who suffer from pain or injuries. The concept draws from Tai Chi, yoga, and Pilates and helps a runner focus on form, posture, alignment, using core muscles, and tuning into your energy, or chi.

I'll start with the book. And I'll keep you posted and let you know if (and when) deciding to go out for a run starts to sound like a possibility, rather than a punishment.

 

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Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

As a low-impact exercise, Tai Chi is great for people with joint problems because it can help strengthen connective tissue and improve circulation. I always hated exercise (except dancing) but a year ago, I discovered tai chi and this was wat my body really wanted: the slow, controlled movement, the focus and the balance.

Runners Choice - It's like slow ballet. While I needed all my courage to drag myself to the gym, now I can hardly wait till my next tai chi class. It doesn't help with weight loss, but since I'm into tai chi, I don't really care too much anymore about calories burned.

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