November 19, 2019
by Jeannette Boudreau, Ontario
Running does not hurt your body. It’s the way you run that does the damage and causes pain.Danny Dreyer Author of Chi Running: A Revolutionary Approach to Effortless Injury-Free Running
In 2018, my body was struck with one injury after another. It was a very frustrating year for me as I had just created A Great Canadian Running Challenge, and after the first month, I realized that there was absolutely no way for me to reach 1000 KM in one year. From having tendonitis, a stress fracture, plantar fasciitis and a herniated disc and ending the year having major back surgery, I felt defeated.
While I was recovering from my surgery, I wanted to figure out what had caused me to have so many injuries that year. I stumbled upon a book called ChiRunning: A Revolutionary Approach to Effortless Injury-Free Running by Danny Dreyer.
As runners, we push our bodies so hard at times which causes tension throughout our muscles and this why we deal with so many different injuries.
As I read through the book, I realized that I was doing it all wrong. When I run, my body is tense. My mind becomes so focused on being better and stronger than my last run. I want to increase my pace, my distance and my endurance every single time I’m out there! I pushed my body, my legs and my mind so hard, for so many years, never realizing that I was damaging it. This created tension throughout my muscles and I truly believe that this is the reason I had so many different injuries. Also, I sometimes forgot to breathe properly while I was running. I never knew there was such a thing as focussing on my breath! Every time I went out for a run, I wanted to be better than the last time. I wanted to beat my personal records by pushing my body to go further distances or by increasing my pace. I didn’t breathe properly and I had no clue how to keep my body properly aligned. I rarely paid attention to small signals that my body would send out to me, telling me to slow down. I just wanted to go!
The emphasis on Chi Running is to set yourself up so that there are no blocks and your energy can freely flow through your body.-Danny Dreyer
Danny Dreyer describes how important it is to run without having tension in the body. He teaches us how to relax while running by giving us many tips and strategies, using simple Chi Running techniques. The author states: “The emphasis on Chi Running is to set yourself up so that there are no blocks and your energy can freely flow through your body. This is accomplished by maintaining good posture, keeping your joints open and loose and making sure that your muscles are relaxed and not holding any tension as you run.” What a significant breakthrough for me!! I’ve always tried to live a mindful lifestyle, but I never really thought of being mindful of my body while running.
After reading the book, I decided to change my running style. I became more focused on sending energy through my body, from my head to my toes, instead of focusing on time, pace or distance. I decided that I was going to run, just to run….because I enjoyed it and it always made me feel amazing! No pressure. No tension. I am also learning to pay attention to my running form. If I begin to feel any discomfort in an area, I slow down and sent energy to that area. I am getting good at being more mindful while I run. I am now more aware of my breath, my posture, my joints and my body, especially my feet!
Running is not supposed to be stressful! It is supposed to be enjoyable.
I started running mindfully, not too long after my surgery. Immediately, I noticed a significant change! I felt like I was able to breathe and run without feeling overwhelmed and sore. I felt a sense of calmness while I ran because I took all the pressure off of myself to be fast or go far. I had less pain in all areas of my body. I was able to run and not feel so exhausted. I allowed energy to flow through the center of my spine. This allowed me to have better runs. I wasn’t sore. I wasn’t achy. I didn’t feel like it was work anymore. I didn’t focus on time. I didn’t focus on distance. I just ran because I love to run. I feel good when I run. It’s my therapy, and it does wonders for my body! It gives me the energy I need to deal with any situation that arises during my day. One kilometer is one kilometer. It doesn’t matter how you get it done, as long as you get it done!
Running is not supposed to be stressful. I put a lot of stress on myself as a runner in the past. I always wanted to be better, to be faster, to go longer distances. This pressure caused stress for my mind and tension for my body. We are supposed to enjoy this sport. We are supposed to let our bodies glide and run freely, like a child running on a playground playing Tag. No stress. No worries. Kids just run. They never complain of aches and pains from running. They are rarely ever sore from running either.
I decided to start running like a child in January this year. Carefree. Without tension. I focus on my breath. I am loose but aligned. There is no tension in my body. I send energy throughout it and focus on healing it as I run. Since I’ve changed the way I run, I haven’t had one injury. I enjoy running even more than ever! It is the beginning of August and I ran over 450 KM so far this year. My body feels great! My mind feels focused! My heart is healthy!
I don’t worry about my pace or my distance anymore. I am running my own race.
For the most part, I don’t worry about my pace or my distance while I’m running anymore. I took that pressure off myself. I set out to run a little every day or every other day. When I begin to feel any tension or strain in my body, I slow down. I breathe through it. I allow energy to flow through me, like water flowing down a windy river. I just run because I love it!