ChiRunning's Strength Training Triad - Chi Living

ChiRunning’s Strength Training Triad

Posted by Danny Dreyer on Wed Jun 11th, 2014, 8 comments

It’s widely accepted that you can improve your running performance with strength training. We agree you need strength training, but it’s not just physical strength that we’re talking about. If physical strength training is all you're focusing on, you’re not getting the most out of your training time.

In ChiRunning, real improvement in performance comes from balancing three pillars of strength training:

·      Physical strength training

·      Mental strength training

·      Psychological strength training

1.  Physical strength training is directed towards the following:

  • Improving  your core strength and increasing your cardio/aerobic conditioning to prepare your body for increasing speed or distance.
  • It is also needed to correct any structural imbalances or muscle weakness from lack of use.
  • Alongside your strength training should be lots of stretching and focused relaxation to promote good range of motion and efficiency in your stride.

2.  Mental strength training is about three main things:

  • Education: Knowing what you should be doing at any given moment: whether it’s which Form Focus you need in the moment, or how much you should be fueling and hydrating. Educate your mind. It’s training your mind to know what to do, when to do it, and why.
  • Building mental muscle: The best way to strengthen your mind is just like physical strength training…you want to do regular repeats. If you’re practicing to swing your arms correctly, your attention will last only a few minutes, unless you bring your mind back to the focus over and over again until it becomes natural for your body. THIS is mental strength training at it’s best. Your mind gets stronger and your body get wiser.
  • Body Sensing: Mental strength training would never be complete without lots of practice in Body Sensing which is really the art of listening carefully to what your body is telling you, and then responding appropriately with the right physical adjustment.

3.  Emotional/psychological strength training is the third branch of strength training. Having a positive attitude going into an event is crucial to a successful outcome. This attitude is supported by (and a byproduct of) all that physical and mental strength training you do. You can have all the strength and education in the world, but if you don’t have the “fuel” of a positive attitude, your odds of success diminish dramatically. When you are physically and mentally strong, it supports a positive outlook and greater potential for success. A good attitude backed up by physical and mental strength can insure the results you’re looking for. And if you need to get physically stronger, or build your mental muscle, one that is focused and strategic, a positive attitude will help you achieve these goals as well.

These three strengths work as a team. You want to make sure you are working on all 3 aspects of “strength training” over the course of your training, with none of them working alone, and each supporting the other. A strong mind directs your body well; a strong body responds more quickly and accurately to the directions of your mind and a strong psyche gives you the confidence to accomplish your goals and gain deeper wisdom from your running. With this triad in place you’ll have the wherewithal to meet any challenge, whether it’s internal or external.





8 CommentsLeave a comment below

It is easy to forget the mental and emotional part of training. People tend to focus on the physical - how many miles to run, sprint training, and maybe some stretching. But the mental discipline and focusing on alignment and noticing where your body is in balance or out of balance are equally important.

Yoga is a great way to incorporate the mental and emotional components so valuable in running into your practice.

The importance of the mental side of running, or any physical activity, is greatly under estimated, and therefore, underutilized. Good stuff, Danny. Many thanks.

Norma Shechtman Jun 11th, 2014 11:11pm

Valuable information and so true. Thank you.

Darlene Goode Jun 11th, 2014 11:54pm

I have a long exhausting story for you but I will save that for another time. My question is why does my butt bones hurt while Chi running? It’s not piriformis. I am well versed in most injuries (i have had them all). This is different both sides of my butt bones maybe (sitz) when running. Most times I have to stop and stretch and hope it gets better. When it does my right side still lingers on. I do yoga/pilates. I try to stretch my hamstrings as much as possible. Wondering if this has anything to do with the way I position my upper body.
Danny, please come to Hong Kong!!! We need you here!

Darlene Toal Jun 12th, 2014 10:28am

when my glutes were really sore my massage therapist discovered my hips were out of alignment. Once she straightened me out, the glute pain went away.

Great article. I’m convinced that mindfulness has a huge role to play in helping people develop the mental and psychological strength within the triad. So does that make running 33% physical? Yes that’s probably about right.

My practice of ChiRunning (since March) has heightened my awareness for stronger mental and emotional discipline while running or racing.  No other methodology I found in training provides these elements.  It spills into my daily life, a big plus.  These elements are necessary in any sport to take it to the next level.

I’ve been a student of T’ai Chi for over eight years now and consider it an invaluable cross-training activity in that it provides great training in body awareness and injury prevention.

What are your thoughts?

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