How to Make Your Running a Practice

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A practice is a regular activity you do to enhance your quality of life or to improve some aspect of yourself. A good practice helps your body, mind and spirit evolve and progress. Approach running as a practice instead of a fitness activity. This elevates it to a much higher level of importance and fulfillment.

When I began to develop Chi Running as a practice, I learned how to approach every run in a mindful way. I began to listen more carefully to what my body was telling me. I learned how to release tension and run faster without increasing my perceived rate of exertion.

I found ways to use less leg muscle for propulsion, and I learned the value of a mid-foot strike. I also learned useful qualities, such as patience, consistency, and planning, which I could apply to the rest of my life.

With the New Year upon us, many are thinking about aspirations and goals. "Train for a marathon", "Run three times a week", or "Set a new PR" might be one of the goals on your list.

We all know how easy it is to let other activities take priority—after all, life happens. But if the time you devote to running is about more than just getting in miles or minutes, you'll be much more likely to commit yourself to following through.

Running solely to achieve a specific goal can start to feel mechanical and mundane. When we put the focus on our technique, running becomes process-oriented rather than goal-oriented.

The benefits of improving technique are two-fold: we can reach the goals we set with greater ease, and we get to experiment with our movement, practice relaxation, occasionally fall on our faces, and come away with wisdom. We can work on our technique indefinitely, so every run can be stimulating and challenging.

To make your running goals more than just words on paper, make running a practice. Here's how:

  • Be consistent in your running program. Make a reasonable weekly workout schedule and stick to it.
  • Know which Chi Running Form Focuses you'll use during every run. This can teach you planning and mindfulness, and improve your mind/body connection.
  • Constantly practice relaxing your muscles. This trains your body to release tension no matter what activity you're doing.

At the end of your run, spend a few minutes doing an "end-of-run review." Ask yourself how well you did with keeping your focuses, and how your body felt during the run. What did you come away with that can help your next run? In this way, you'll build a healthy, meaningful and sustainable running program.

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