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Health Club Management

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Running: Run right

How many of your members pound the treadmill with poor technique, risking injury and hating every leaden-legged second of it? It doesn’t have to be this way according to Danny Dreyer, founder of ChiRunning, who says he can turn anyone into a runner. Kath Hudson discovers how

By Kath Hudson | Published in Health Club Management 2020 issue 1
Run right
Run right
If your body is falling forward because it’s being pulled by gravity, it can relax and you don’t have to push yourself forward - Danny Dreyer, CHIRunning

I teach people how to run without using their legs,” says veteran ultra distance runner Danny Dreyer, who has created an efficient system of running which incorporates principles of t’ai chi and physics. “Imagine, if instead of running, all you have to do is pick up your feet to keep up with your forward fall.

“Instead of using your legs to push you forward as most people do, you engage your core and harness gravity while running. So, rather than using your own muscle power, your forward momentum comes from engaging the pull of gravity as you let the road move your legs rearward.”

Running without any effort may sound too good to be true, (especially to those used to slogging it out) but Dreyer says everyone can master this effortless way of running, because it’s what we all did when we were kids: before age and sitting down for long periods of time brought in stiffness and inflexibility, and height created a fear of falling.

“I wish I had a video of everyone who said “I can’t run” and then six weeks later are running and loving it,” says Dreyer. “Or triathletes who come to me because they love the swim and the bike, but hate the run, but then it becomes their favourite element. Or people who can step up from a half marathon to a full one without any significant increase in effort.

“ChiRunning really changes people’s perception of how they can move their body. I’ve taught all sorts of people, including those with prosthetic legs, hip and knee replacements and those who have a BMI in the 30s... It doesn’t matter what condition you’re in, we start slowly, make progress in small increments, start with ChiWalking and gradually build confidence.”

How does it work?
Dreyer was a seasoned ultra runner when he started bringing the principles of t’ai chi into his running practise and says it was a complete game changer, because he would still feel fresh at the end of a marathon.

Like t’ai chi, ChiRunning involves harnessing the power of the core, so the individual learns to move from the centre, rather than relying on the weaker extremities. It’s basically the same as how toddlers learn to walk.

“When we’re learning to walk we find our centre of balance and start to tip forward, with gravity, which is when we take a step to balance ourselves. So it’s about finding the sweet spot where you fall forward, but not so much that you fall,” says Dreyer. “If your body is falling forward because it’s being pulled by gravity, it can relax and you don’t have to push yourself forward.”

Postural alignment is the key to getting this right and the technique can take a while to nail. Dreyer says the quickest anyone has grasped it is 30 minutes, and the longest three months. But like a yoga practise, or tai chi, it’s something which you work on forever. “I’m still working on my technique after 20 years. You never perfect it, you just get better at learning,” says Dreyer.

Follow the Kenyans
The correct position for ChiRunning is to have the body in a straight line from the ankles to the head, but slightly tipped forward – from the ankles, not the waist. It’s how the Kenyan distance runners move and Dreyer says this is a cultural, rather than a genetic, method.

Dreyer warns against taking long strides out in front of the body. Although this is a common way of running, it is inefficient, leads to heel striking, jarring and injury risk.

People who run like this might be fast and consider themselves good runners, but their success will come from hard work, not an effortless flow, and they will likely get injured at some point.

ChiRunning follows the Kenyan style, where the foot naturally hits the ground beneath the body with a mid-foot strike, followed by a long stride behind. Propelled by gravity, the heels then come up high as a by product of everything else.

Continual running
Holding this forward position correctly takes core strength. Although some people need to take some time to strengthen the core before they can progress to ChiRunning, holding the correct postural alignment in every day life makes even the weak muscles stronger and speeds up progress.

“This is neural training - the mind tells the body how to move and if it’s moving incorrectly the neural pathway has to be changed,” says Dreyer. “But the more you train this way, the faster the old pathway will dissolve, which is why it has to be done repetitively, consistently and often.”

Dreyer says he likes his clients to practise all day every day – thinking about postural alignment while standing in line, or working at a desk and whenever they walk. “ChiRunning is mindful movement, the intention is to bring consciousness to whatever you’re doing, so you are never not paying attention,” he says.

“You’re not practising your running style just when you’re running: sensing your core and relaxing your arms and legs can happen all day. It’s a very different way to approach running than simply following a programme, it’s a completely holistic approach.”

Danny Dreyer
Danny Dreyer

• Dreyer has raced every distance from 5k to 100 miles and has completed 43 ultra marathons with podium finishes in all but three.

• In 2004 and 2005 he was the national age group champion (50 to 54) at the USATF National 50k Championships.

• His fastest 50k (31.1miles) is 3:41!

He has written three books:
- ChiRunning: A Revolutionary Approach to Effortless, Injury-free Running
- ChiWalking: Five Mindful Steps to Lifelong Health and Energy
- ChiMarathon: The Breakthough Natural Running Program for a Pain-Free Half Marathon and Marathon

ChiRunning in a nutshell

This method is based on straight postural alignment, around the centre line and working from the core. So every time the foot hits the ground, the runner’s posture stays tall, straight, and supported by the core. The body is tipped forward, which allows gravity to provide the momentum for the movement, rather than the muscles having to generate it.

Arms are used as a counter balance to the forward pull of gravity and swing rearward to control that balance point. It’s all about efficiency of movement, so arms need to cooperate with the legs, otherwise the legs will have to work harder.

The body must be as streamlined as possible and all parts moving in the same direction. Cadence should fall between 170 and 180 steps per minute, with the legs acting like pendulums swinging from the hips.

Engaging with ChiRunning and ChiWalking
If you have members who believe they can’t run, find it a struggle or want to improve their performance to take part in a distance run or triathlon, pointing them in the way of ChiRunning would be to their benefit and to yours, as they won’t wind up injuring themselves and having to cancel their membership.

There are a number of ways to engage with the concept. Firstly, you could train one of your staff up to be an instructor and then run individual or group running classes, or guided walks.

The instructor training courses take four to six months to complete. Most of it is home study with a four day workshop at the end.

There are now some 200 instructors in 23 countries. Go to https://www.chirunning.com or www.ChiRunning.co.uk to find out about your nearest course.

If you would like to empower your members to go on their own ChiRunning journey, there’s an online subscription to The ChiRunning school, where subscribers can access one lesson a week, with a 10 minute video to watch and an audio download to talk you through the lesson while you run.

There are a number of coaches around the world, or if people want to deal with Dreyer himself, he offers virtual coaching. People just have to send him a video of them running and he will critique it via a Zoom call.

The runner’s posture should be tall, straight and supported by the core PHOTO: shutterstock
Danny Dreyer
Danny Dreyer
Dreyer brings principles from Tai Chi into running, harnessing the power of the core and postural alignment
Dreyer brings principles from Tai Chi into running, harnessing the power of the core and postural alignment
Dreyer encourages his clients to think about posture at all times
Dreyer encourages his clients to think about posture at all times
http://www.leisureopportunities.com/images/imagesX/203926_321063.jpg
How many of your members pound the treadmill with poor technique and hate every second of it? It doesn't have to be this way, according to Danny Dreyer, founder of ChiRunning, who says he can turn anyone into a runner...
ChiRunning, Danny Dreyer,running technique, treadmill technique, ChiRunning, Danny Dreyer
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features

Running: Run right

How many of your members pound the treadmill with poor technique, risking injury and hating every leaden-legged second of it? It doesn’t have to be this way according to Danny Dreyer, founder of ChiRunning, who says he can turn anyone into a runner. Kath Hudson discovers how

By Kath Hudson | Published in Health Club Management 2020 issue 1
Run right
Run right
If your body is falling forward because it’s being pulled by gravity, it can relax and you don’t have to push yourself forward - Danny Dreyer, CHIRunning

I teach people how to run without using their legs,” says veteran ultra distance runner Danny Dreyer, who has created an efficient system of running which incorporates principles of t’ai chi and physics. “Imagine, if instead of running, all you have to do is pick up your feet to keep up with your forward fall.

“Instead of using your legs to push you forward as most people do, you engage your core and harness gravity while running. So, rather than using your own muscle power, your forward momentum comes from engaging the pull of gravity as you let the road move your legs rearward.”

Running without any effort may sound too good to be true, (especially to those used to slogging it out) but Dreyer says everyone can master this effortless way of running, because it’s what we all did when we were kids: before age and sitting down for long periods of time brought in stiffness and inflexibility, and height created a fear of falling.

“I wish I had a video of everyone who said “I can’t run” and then six weeks later are running and loving it,” says Dreyer. “Or triathletes who come to me because they love the swim and the bike, but hate the run, but then it becomes their favourite element. Or people who can step up from a half marathon to a full one without any significant increase in effort.

“ChiRunning really changes people’s perception of how they can move their body. I’ve taught all sorts of people, including those with prosthetic legs, hip and knee replacements and those who have a BMI in the 30s... It doesn’t matter what condition you’re in, we start slowly, make progress in small increments, start with ChiWalking and gradually build confidence.”

How does it work?
Dreyer was a seasoned ultra runner when he started bringing the principles of t’ai chi into his running practise and says it was a complete game changer, because he would still feel fresh at the end of a marathon.

Like t’ai chi, ChiRunning involves harnessing the power of the core, so the individual learns to move from the centre, rather than relying on the weaker extremities. It’s basically the same as how toddlers learn to walk.

“When we’re learning to walk we find our centre of balance and start to tip forward, with gravity, which is when we take a step to balance ourselves. So it’s about finding the sweet spot where you fall forward, but not so much that you fall,” says Dreyer. “If your body is falling forward because it’s being pulled by gravity, it can relax and you don’t have to push yourself forward.”

Postural alignment is the key to getting this right and the technique can take a while to nail. Dreyer says the quickest anyone has grasped it is 30 minutes, and the longest three months. But like a yoga practise, or tai chi, it’s something which you work on forever. “I’m still working on my technique after 20 years. You never perfect it, you just get better at learning,” says Dreyer.

Follow the Kenyans
The correct position for ChiRunning is to have the body in a straight line from the ankles to the head, but slightly tipped forward – from the ankles, not the waist. It’s how the Kenyan distance runners move and Dreyer says this is a cultural, rather than a genetic, method.

Dreyer warns against taking long strides out in front of the body. Although this is a common way of running, it is inefficient, leads to heel striking, jarring and injury risk.

People who run like this might be fast and consider themselves good runners, but their success will come from hard work, not an effortless flow, and they will likely get injured at some point.

ChiRunning follows the Kenyan style, where the foot naturally hits the ground beneath the body with a mid-foot strike, followed by a long stride behind. Propelled by gravity, the heels then come up high as a by product of everything else.

Continual running
Holding this forward position correctly takes core strength. Although some people need to take some time to strengthen the core before they can progress to ChiRunning, holding the correct postural alignment in every day life makes even the weak muscles stronger and speeds up progress.

“This is neural training - the mind tells the body how to move and if it’s moving incorrectly the neural pathway has to be changed,” says Dreyer. “But the more you train this way, the faster the old pathway will dissolve, which is why it has to be done repetitively, consistently and often.”

Dreyer says he likes his clients to practise all day every day – thinking about postural alignment while standing in line, or working at a desk and whenever they walk. “ChiRunning is mindful movement, the intention is to bring consciousness to whatever you’re doing, so you are never not paying attention,” he says.

“You’re not practising your running style just when you’re running: sensing your core and relaxing your arms and legs can happen all day. It’s a very different way to approach running than simply following a programme, it’s a completely holistic approach.”

Danny Dreyer
Danny Dreyer

• Dreyer has raced every distance from 5k to 100 miles and has completed 43 ultra marathons with podium finishes in all but three.

• In 2004 and 2005 he was the national age group champion (50 to 54) at the USATF National 50k Championships.

• His fastest 50k (31.1miles) is 3:41!

He has written three books:
- ChiRunning: A Revolutionary Approach to Effortless, Injury-free Running
- ChiWalking: Five Mindful Steps to Lifelong Health and Energy
- ChiMarathon: The Breakthough Natural Running Program for a Pain-Free Half Marathon and Marathon

ChiRunning in a nutshell

This method is based on straight postural alignment, around the centre line and working from the core. So every time the foot hits the ground, the runner’s posture stays tall, straight, and supported by the core. The body is tipped forward, which allows gravity to provide the momentum for the movement, rather than the muscles having to generate it.

Arms are used as a counter balance to the forward pull of gravity and swing rearward to control that balance point. It’s all about efficiency of movement, so arms need to cooperate with the legs, otherwise the legs will have to work harder.

The body must be as streamlined as possible and all parts moving in the same direction. Cadence should fall between 170 and 180 steps per minute, with the legs acting like pendulums swinging from the hips.

Engaging with ChiRunning and ChiWalking
If you have members who believe they can’t run, find it a struggle or want to improve their performance to take part in a distance run or triathlon, pointing them in the way of ChiRunning would be to their benefit and to yours, as they won’t wind up injuring themselves and having to cancel their membership.

There are a number of ways to engage with the concept. Firstly, you could train one of your staff up to be an instructor and then run individual or group running classes, or guided walks.

The instructor training courses take four to six months to complete. Most of it is home study with a four day workshop at the end.

There are now some 200 instructors in 23 countries. Go to https://www.chirunning.com or www.ChiRunning.co.uk to find out about your nearest course.

If you would like to empower your members to go on their own ChiRunning journey, there’s an online subscription to The ChiRunning school, where subscribers can access one lesson a week, with a 10 minute video to watch and an audio download to talk you through the lesson while you run.

There are a number of coaches around the world, or if people want to deal with Dreyer himself, he offers virtual coaching. People just have to send him a video of them running and he will critique it via a Zoom call.

The runner’s posture should be tall, straight and supported by the core PHOTO: shutterstock
Danny Dreyer
Danny Dreyer
Dreyer brings principles from Tai Chi into running, harnessing the power of the core and postural alignment
Dreyer brings principles from Tai Chi into running, harnessing the power of the core and postural alignment
Dreyer encourages his clients to think about posture at all times
Dreyer encourages his clients to think about posture at all times
http://www.leisureopportunities.com/images/imagesX/203926_321063.jpg
How many of your members pound the treadmill with poor technique and hate every second of it? It doesn't have to be this way, according to Danny Dreyer, founder of ChiRunning, who says he can turn anyone into a runner...
ChiRunning, Danny Dreyer,running technique, treadmill technique, ChiRunning, Danny Dreyer
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