I remember the moment I found the Chi Running book. In the odd way memory works, I can remember a million things about that moment, the quality of the light, the height of the bookshelves, the pain in my IT Band, but I can’t remember what city I was in.

I’m not one to read books on sports very often, so browsing through the running books was unusual for me. As influential as the first time I browsed in the cookbook section (which is now an addiction of mine), in retrospect. I found Chi Running. I looked at it closer, as much because I thought it sounded like some weird woo-woo crap as anything else. In looking at it closer, I wanted to believe.

Here was a guy who said that you could do pain-free running. Knee problems, ankle problems, whatever it was, he was claiming that if you ran the way he ran you could avoid the pain. Even as skeptical as I am, it made me take a closer look, as I shifted uncomfortably, trying to ease the dull throbbing pain of another round of IT Band pain.

He didn’t talk about ITBS, but he did talk about physics, and the physics of the posture he was talking about made so much sense.

I bought the book.

It was another year before I read it. A year in which I suffered yet again from IT pain that prevented me from running. A year in which I went to the PT, got ultrasounds, a foam roller, and three new pairs of shoes, all looking for a way past the pain, past the IT problems.

In desperation, feeling like I was going to have to give up on running, I looked again at my Chi Running book. I found a chi running instructor through their website. I emailed her, and said “I don’t know if Chi Running could help, but I have ITBS and it has been preventing me from running…” Her response was an immediate confirmation that chi running could and would solve this problem. Hype? I wondered, but her confidence was solid and unwavering. I signed up for a series of lessons.

The week before I had called her, I’d tried again to run. Within 5 steps I was in pain, within 10 I had to turn around. I told my chi running instructor that I wasn’t sure how much I’d be able to run in our lessons (4 sessions of one hour each), because my IT band was inflamed. Again, she didn’t seem worried. Her confidence gave me hope.

The first lesson was mostly learning the basics of the posture and doing some drills to teach my mind and body the new way of running. My IT band gave a few throbs, but didn’t complain much.

The next lessons had me running for parts of the lesson. Within two weeks I went from someone who couldn’t run an eight of a mile (and hadn’t been able to run a mile in a year without IT pain) to someone who was able to run a mile with only a few minor twinges of the IT band. It only got better, and in another two weeks I was up to 3 miles. Victory!

And then of course it got worse, until I was hardly able to run a mile.

I emailed my instructor. We met for a tune-up, and I learned that I had started doing something not quite right, and my IT band was letting me know. Once Kelly tuned up my posture, poof, the IT band pain went away. And again, the result was immediate, and I was running on an inflamed IT band with no pain!

This cycle has repeated itself many times. I’m essentially the poster child for proof that Chi Running works. It doesn’t matter how long it has been since I’ve had IT pain, if I slip out of the chi running posture, I’ll feel it. If I can’t fix it myself, I go to an instructor and they point out something and work with me on it, and I’m immediately able to run again.

So, I’m a believer. I get no money from anyone involved in Chi Running (a valid question to wonder), this is just my story. I love to run, and the only way my body will let me run is with Chi Running. I honestly believe, based on my own experience and the stories I’ve heard from others, that anyone who wants to run but ends up with some kind of pain (any kind!) from running, will be helped by Chi Running. Well, there are logical limits to this – don’t, for instance, go running at all in any form if you have broken bones!

The chi running instructors have a certification process that they can go through, and thus through the main chi running website (yes, it is a brand now) you can find certified instructors. I’ve used this twice – once in Denver, and once in DC – and I’ve been very happy with the people I’ve taken lessons from.

It does cost money, but I’ve spent far less on the initial course and the tune-ups I’ve had since then than I spent on the shoes and inserts and Physical Therapist visits that I tried before that! I tried Chi Running out of desperation, but I’d have saved myself a lot of time, money, and frustration if I’d tried Chi Running first!

If you’re curious who I’ve taken lessons from, first it was Kelly Ryan (who now lives in Hawaii), and more recently it was Lloyd Henry in the DC area. Lloyd travels a fair amount teaching seminars, and so it is worth checking out his site to see if he’ll be in your area at some point.

Happy running! Oh and happy earth day. I might be a day late, but this quote is perfect for any day of the year.

chip giller quote on sbux cup

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