Saturday, November 7, 2009

Why Lean Forward Run Farther

I guess on one level the title of this blog is pretty self-explanatory. But I want to add the source behind it. Some time ago I read a book by Danny Dreyer called ChiRunning: A Revolutionary Approach to Effortless, Injury-Free Running. Dreyer is a world-class ultramarathoner and running coach. This is a gross simplification, but his basic approach to running is that you keep your body aligned while leaning forward and let gravity do the rest. Like in t'ai chi (as if I know anything about tai chi), in chirunning your core is the source of your power. Your legs and arms are like pendulums swinging from the core. I am certainly not claiming to be a great exemplar of chirunning. For more information about it, check Dreyer's web site:

When I'm out running, whether on a training run or in a race, and I feel my pace slow or start feeling tired, "Lean forward!" has become my inner mantra. To the extent I have tried to utilize the chirunning style, I think I have seen some improvement. I still have a ways to go.

Oh, and "Lean forward!" is always yelled in my brain in a thick Central American accent. Why?

When I was in college, one of my roommates, Brandon, went on a mission trip somewhere in Central America. He told a hilarious story about their flight on a tiny plane. They could literally see the runway through the floor of the plane. The crew (if that's not too lofty a term) told them to put all their bags in the front of the plane. The crew lifted the tail to help them taxi down the runway. The little engine struggled to gain enough speed for liftoff. As Brandon told it, as they accelerated down the runway the pilot was yelling back over his shoulder, "Lean forward! Lean forward!" They did manage to safely take off--I'm sure with a lot of prayer.

So while "Lean forward" reminds me to be aware of my body alignment and running style, it also serves as a reminder that in spite of substandard equipment and too much weight (that's me), I can go the distance, too.

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