I have been a runner since age 13 and ran competitively at University of Virginia in the mid 80’s. My interest in medicine was sparked after experiencing our team physician Dr. Danial Kulund of Charlottesville try some seemingly bazaar at the time and innovative approaches to running injuries.
He was the first to have people run in the pool and built orthotics in his toaster oven. It seemed like there must be better ways to treat these maladies and Dr. Kulund blazed his own path. Oft injured Mary Decker Slaney was one of the first of Dr. Kulund’s patients to have running rebirth by his methods.
Runners train in water now not just as injury rehab, but for prevention and supplemental training. 20 years into my medical career I am reviving the passion I felt at that time by witnessing how ChiRunning is giving many, including myself, running rebirth.
Dr. George Sheehan was another pioneer and his ideas were also way ahead of his time. I read “Running and Being” in high school and did not really understand a lot of what he was talking about then…but now I do. Holism, prevention, understanding movement and the root causes of injury- that is the holy grail of running pain free for life.
“If athletes were given less care and more thought, the doctors might come up with some original ideas on why illness persists, why injury doesn’t clear up.
"If more non-physicians could be induced to lend their ideas and talents, we might see a completely new approach to sports medicine.”
Dr. George Sheehan 1975
A modern innovator applying these innovative and integrated principles is Jay Dicharry at The University of Virginia Speed Clinic. His inquisitiveness and pursuit of new methods gave me the opportunity to present ChiRunning research at the 2008 UVA Running Medicine Conference. Jay connects form, function, performance, and injury prevention and empowers those he sees with insight, cues, and detailed instruction to self correction.
2006 Boston Marathon 4/06- 53rd overall, 2:31.45
2006 Ottawa Marathon 5/06- 8th overall, 2:32.05
2006 Air Force Marathon 9/06- 1st overall, 2:31.47
2006 Marine Corps Marathon 10/06- 1st Master, 11th overall, 2:32.45
This was 4 marathons (all 2:31-2:32) in 6 months all feeling comfortable with little recovery needed. There definitely was something to this technique as I could not do this even in my younger years.
2007 and 2008 have also been satisfying and successful. 3 sub 2:35 marathons, another Masters win at Marine Corps, and 2 successful 50 milers at the JFK 50 (16th place in 2007 and 11th place and first Master in 2008). Could not imagine lining up for the ultra distance without the secret weapon of ChiRunning in the tool kit.
As a physician seeking to find new innovative ways to treat injury, the method cryed out for study. The first step was surveying the users for results and comments. In late 2007 Danny Dreyer sent 25,000 email surveys with a 10% response. This is good in the world of survey research. The results showed dramatic decreases injury and effort, and a quick learning curve. The part which really convinced me to continue to validate this method was the over 1000 comments, many of which were nothing short of life changing testimonials to ChiRunning.
My wife is a researcher and she told me once “The plural of anecdote is not fact”. So we are continuing our studies of ChiRunning now with prospective trails.
The beauty of focusing on form is that we all continue to improve, sometimes in small steps and often in leaps. None of us are close to perfect. We dream of one day running on water. I’ve had the privilege of attending the 4 day ChiRunning instructor course in October 2008. The immersion course accelerated my learning. In 2008 has been one of the most successful fall running seasons in my life, and more importantly I’ve learned how to better help others.
As voiced by many in the ChiRunning survey; this method has given me running longevity, made it easier and painless, and has given me confidence I can run forever into the retirement home. The ChiRunning methods are applied physics and biomechanics that any runner can apply to their benefit. No pain…no gain- a thing of the past. No pain….thank you- the ChiRunning way.
Mark Cucuzzella MD, FAAFP
Associate Professor of Family Medicine West Virginia University
Lt. Col. US Air Force Reserves