Running, nowadays, is serious business. For a long time, a runner’s primary focus was placed entirely on strength and stamina training, nutrition and hydration, stretching and body elasticity. Runners seemed largely unconcerned about the mechanics of running, a runner’s form or posture and there was little to no link between running technique and performance. However, the recent decades have seen a more hands-on and scientific approach to running.

The FOCUS, it seems, has shifted…from BIOENERGETICS to BIOMECHANICS.

From the internal composition of a runner’s body or bioenergetics, as it is scientifically known, attention has been drawn to biomechanics, or the movements of the human body parts, integrating the “mindfulness” into the running programs.

Today, runners can take their pick and choose from a number of various techniques floating within the runner-space. Athletes, bio-mechanists, scientists and running enthusiasts have all contributed to the evolution of running techniques and training programs.

Two such techniques are the ChiRunning technique, brainchild of marathon runner and T’ai Chi enthusiast Danny Dreyer, and FIRST – the Furman Institute of Running and Scientific Training marathon training program.

ChiRunning

ChiRunning, a running technique developed by Ultra marathon runner Danny Dreyer is a methodical system that uses biomechanical movements of your body to help reduce bodily impact, thereby allowing runners to run longer distances in a simpler and injury free manner. The core to the philosophy of ChiRunning is keeping an aligned posture, and a relaxed mind and body parts. ChiRunning stresses the use of Core Strength for a better running form, making good use of the pull of Gravity rather than the use of our legs for propulsion.

FIRST (Furman Institute of Running and Scientific Training)

Furman Institute of Running and Scientific Training, or the FIRST Run Less, Run Faster is a marathon training program developed by Furman University’s researchers; Bill Pierce, Scott Murr and Ray Moss. All three are seasoned marathoners and Furman University professors and together, they created the unique marathon training philosophy to produce faster race time. FIRST is a system of training designed specifically to prepare runners for their first marathons. It is an intense mix of hard running and cross-fit training that allows serious runners to achieve the best results.

Danny Dreyer, the founder of ChiRunning maintains that ChiRunning is a style that promotes a soft landing and a mid-foot strike with a forward lean. By using the ChiRunning principles, a runner can take advantage of the Earth’s natural gravitational pull as well as the runner individual natural center of mass for a running experience that is easier, faster and more efficient than ever before. Proper running form and posture that is surrounded by “relaxation” is the key in maintaining a sustainable and injury free running experience. This relates to one of the principle of T’ai Chi – “Needle in The Cotton”. Running distance and speed will fall in place naturally once one has mastered and has achieved a higher level of ChiRunning form and technique, running along with the pull of Gravity.

Both ChiRunning and FIRST place great emphasis on injury free training that limits runner burnout. However, while ChiRunning’s aim is making running a Holistic Practice, working in harmony with the Force of Nature (Gravity), thereby aiding in running better and healthier; The focus of FIRST’s marathon training program, on the other hand, is speed oriented. It promotes a 3 days per week run schedule in conjunction with cross-training workouts for the remainder of the week, this training program attempts to improve endurance and run time of the runner without focusing on a runner’s inner strength. FIRST offers detailed plans for marathon preparation with goal setting tips, recovery, rest, injury prevention and training and is more intense and rigorous in comparison to the Holistic Approach of ChiRunning.

While both programs are incredibly detailed and thorough, it seems that they may be designed for different kinds of running enthusiasts. A beginner, intermediate or advanced runners can appreciate the ChiRunning style that focuses on perfecting the art of biomechanics to build up their strength and stamina to achieve maximum fitness.

FIRST marathon training program is, on the other hand, a more intense workout regime designed to cater for runners for marathon races, by compacting and dialing up the intensity of the runner’s workouts, which includes cross-fit training sessions within the training.