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Chi Running, Barefoot Running; How's Your Search for a Sustainable Running Style?

Chi running, which emphasizes internal alignment and core strength (tai chi principles) in a runner's stride, is a topic The REI Blog addressed in April, and this week New York Times wellness writer Tara Parker-Pope discussed it in an article, "Finding a Sustainable Running Stride."

Her report quotes one of chi running's guiding lights, author and running coach Danny Dreyer:

race"All of the practice in tai chi comes down to always developing a strong core, but relaxing the moving parts, Those are the things that transfer to running. Most people use their legs way too much, and that's why most runners get injuries from their knees down. You can run more from your core and learn how to relax your legs."

Parker-Pope also cites the momentum other alternative running approaches have gained in recent years, including barefoot running. She points out that former Olympian distance runner Jeff Galloway, advocate of a run-walk-run method, believes no single universal running style exists.

VFFWashington Post fitness columnist Lenny Bernstein on Tuesday wrote about spending time with barefoot/minimalist converts while concluding that for now he's sticking with his traditional heel-strike approach in cushioned shoes.

Both writers acknowledge alternative running styles have attracted large numbers of earnest adherents. Have you noticed your running companions trying new techniques? Have any of them caught your fancy?

Race photos © 2012 REI (Danny McMillian).

Posted on at 5:57 PM

Tagged: Running, barefoot running and chi running

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Ben Beaver

The great deals on last years Vibram FiveFingers inventory have pushed me into the barefoot form.. Although hardcore barefooter' would advocate starting on said "bare" feet to develop proper form, posture, strength, stride, and pads; I have found the the barefoot (free-toe) style to be invigorating.. Bringing a whole new aspect into running.. That is staying in proper form even when you are beat to meat. Plus all the ladies love my shoes.. ;p

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RichRedman

I'm a heavy (usually around 200 lbs) runner with flat feet. I always ran in stability shoes, until I read "Born to Run." I picked up a pair of Nike Free II shoes (Nike's entry in the minimalist category) and haven't looked back. I recently went more minimalist with a pair of Merrell Trail Gloves. I find that minimalist shoes give me better feedback on my strike, and thus on my gait/cadence/stride. Immediate feedback means that I can make immediate adjustments.

As a caution to anyone thinking about minimalist or barefoot running - do wear your shoes around for a few days before running in them, and do work them into your routine gradually. Alternate them with other shoes for awhile after you start running in them. Let yourself acclimate.

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RevRun

I have had several friends embrace the minimalist running, but my brief experience with bare foot running did not go well. I admit that I may have tried to progressed too quickly. After a spat of injuries, I did need physical therapy to strengthen my core and activate stabilizing muscles. The other new twist for me is to embrace a slower pace to keep my heart rate lower and thus to build a better aerobic base.

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lux2 Staff Member

Thanks.

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