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Chi Running: Mix Martial Arts with Cardio To Boost Endurance

It might sound crazy to blend tai chi with running, but surprisingly, it can enhance your overall endurance and form. Here are the basics—and how to get started.

The Basics
Chi Running is a training program that focuses on technique over strength. It takes stress off your legs by emphasizing movement from the core of your body, which Dreyer defines as just below the navel. "Running injuries happen most often below the waist because of too much stress occurring in the lower body and too much work being required of it," Dreyer says. Focusing on your center helps you fall forward into gravity and balance yourself there, which builds strength. Chi Running teaches runners to be more efficient with their form, preventing injuries and improving speed. "It is functional core work — how to strengthen core muscles while you are running to go farther and faster," says Dreyer.

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The Technique
He teaches runners to have correct postural alignment and relax at the same time. If you aren't aligned correctly, your muscles will be working overtime. "We use the technique of leaning forward as you run, so that you are in a controlled fall," he says. Take a look at how a child runs—they lean forward and easily strike mid-foot. As an adult, you get wary of falling on your face, and so you run upright. "Once you start falling forward, gravity assists you, and your legs don't have to push as hard," Dreyer says.

 

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You’ll also learn to use a shorter stride, quicken your tempo to 170-180 strides per minute, move from your center, stay relaxed and flexible throughout your body, practice mindful movement by connecting with your body, keep equal coordination between your lower body and upper body, and use full-belly breathing (similar to yoga breaths).

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