RUN TIPS: Chi Running – Run tall & Avoid Overstriding

Written by Certified Instructor Justin Lau

1. RUNNING TALL FROM THE ANKLES:  As runners get tired, the tendency is to naturally sink down in their stride and allow their knees to flex too much during mid-stance. Runners also do this in attempts to try to soften their stride and run quieter.   When running with an excessive knee bend, this makes it much easier for runners to lean at their waist rather than lean from their ankles. Since they don’t feel the immediate pull of gravity when leaning from the waist, these runners typically end up increasing their cadence to speed up instead. This causes a cascade of altered cadence, overstriding (causing eventual heel striking) and a return to “power running.” The key is to frequently try to reach the vertex of your head up an inch or so (trying to touch the vertex of their head to an imaginary point OR the “string pull analogy”) so that it aligns their spine and pulls them out of an excessive amount of knee flexion. The key is to land with soft knees and NOT excessively flexed knees. 

2.   AVOID OVERSTRIDING:  The second main tip is to avoid overstriding at all costs. Everyone knows that overstriding causes heel striking, which is both inefficient and injurious to the runner. The main thing I found that overstriding does is that it completely negates the runners’ ability to lean and engage gravity! If you land with your foot in front of your hip, how can you lean forward from the ankle? The answer is…you can’t! If you overstride (when your foot strike lands in front of your hip/center of gravity), you physically cannot lean from the ankle until your center of gravity comes over the foot.  By the time you reach this point, you are already moving into your next step. This will continually cause a cascade of overstriding and increase your tendency to lean from the waist. This causes the typical “jack-knifed” appearance that we see in many runners – chest sticking forward while leaning forward at the waist, rear end sticking out in the back and heel striking in front of their hips.

When runners combine the “fixes” for these two tips – running tall from the ankles and keeping their stride underneath or behind their hips, then and only then can they truly feel their body being pulled by gravity! Remember that when one engages gravity properly with Chi Running via the lean, the speed increase should be INSTANTANEOUS!!  If you feel a sluggish increase in speed while adding lean, you are either leaning from the waist or subconsciously speeding up by increasing your cadence. Use these two tips and combine it with changing gears frequently while running. Work on feeling that INSTANTANEOUS change in speed when adding lean and taking it off.


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