Today’s post is by John Payne.
John is a recently retired personal trainer living in Dripping Springs with his wife Laura, three terriers and a parrot. He and Laura enjoy their blended family of nine children plus four spouses and six grandchildren. When not enjoying some family activity, John and Laura enjoy playing golf and running together. John also practices yoga and tai chi with a beginner’s mind and a not so supple body. Before working as a certified trainer, he spent many years in church ministries with a special interest in building community within churches and encouraging personal spiritual formation. John is also an ActiveAge Blueprint member.
“Don’t run to get into shape. Get into shape to run.” Years ago these words of wisdom from Doug Kelsey inspired me to get proper training so I could enjoy running a few miles without pain. Physical therapy prepared me for a run/walk program, and Doug’s book, The Runner’s Knee Bible, gave me great exercises for my training at home. It worked. I got better, and for the first time in my life I was enjoying running one to three miles at a time.
Then I read Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall and became fascinated with the barefoot running / minimalist shoe craze. I wanted to run like an Indian on trails through the Texas hill country! I studied videos, read a few more books, and started trail running. A high hamstring injury and plantar fasciitis slowed me down though, and I realized I needed help.
ChiRunning: A Revolutionary Approach to Effortless, Injury-Free Running by Danny Dreyer provided that help for me. I studied the book, watched some videos and bought a program for beginners training for a half-marathon. My wife and I have been practicing ChiRunning for about six months now. Before I started ChiRunning I practiced ChiWalking. Both are based on principles from tai chi and are designed to teach efficient, more effortless ways to walk or run. The website, ChiLiving is full of good information about the technique and other resources like workshops and training programs.
While the ChiRunning book and program include many helpful tips, I would like to share six points I have found especially beneficial for me.
In many ways ChiRunning is like a moving meditation for me. It’s a process for practicing mindfulness. Learning something new that commands my attention keeps me in the present moment. Occasional moments of being balanced, moving freely and feeling happy and centered come and go as I practice taking these baby steps. I can’t help but feel like learning to run helps prepare me for the steps I take in my life’s journey.