Freedom To Run - Ease, Efficiency, Speed

Jon Burdon, Chi Running and Chi Walking instructor based in England and Wales

I completed the Culloden 17.46k race this morning. Jon gave me some excellent advice on running up hills. Although I need to work at this, the advice he gave me really helped and I negotiated some steep hills while finishing nearly a minute faster than last year. Thanks Jon!

chi me

Chi Running is a natural (or minimalist) running technique which is relaxed, energy efficient, and has a greatly reduced risk of injury. Chi Runnning combines movement ideas from Tai Chi with the sport of running to shift the emphasis towards the core muscles. Therefore posture and relaxation become more important than leg muscles. Chi Running develops familiar ideas from Martial Arts, Meditation, Mindfulness, Yoga and Pilates.

The key elements of the Chi Running approach are:

  • Co-operating with gravity (a slight forwards lean)
  • A mid foot (whole foot) strike
  • Lifting, not pushing, with the feet and ankles
  • An emphasis on the correct arm swing
  • A constant cadence (step rate)
  • Developing a mind-body connection
  • Allowing the principles of alignment and relaxation to the the guiding force behind your running

The two of these are very important. There is far more to Chi Running than just moving your body differently. Chi Running is a holistic, mindful practice that can impact on your whole life. When practised fully, many find it increases the peace and joy in their lives.

If after some thought you choose to become a committed 'Chi Runner,' then you will spend more time developing your running technique than you might have done previously. You will also notice that running feels lighter and more fluid and relaxed. You will also be joining a world wide movement that has discovered that the minimal running style that is Chi Running has transformed their running, and had a long lasting effect on the whole of their lives. I have collected quite a few resources together on Pinterest on the subject of Chi Running and Walking.

The Chi Running and Chi Walking techniques were developed by Danny Dreyer, ultramarathon runner. They have been adopted by many thousands of people throughout the world. Read more about their writing (and others) on my Blog, or watch this video which explains a bit more.

Chi Running is different from conventional running in several important ways. In Chi Running, you learn to emphasise the use of your core muscles, reducing the use of your lower legs considerably. Chi Running involves cooperating with the force of gravity by ensuring correct posture and introducing a slight lean to your running. Chi Running is not only a technique to train your body for improvement. It is a mind body approach to exercise, which involves using mental focus to help the body relax resulting in a more fluid, relaxed style of running.

Chi Running has many benefits. As the technique results in energy efficiency and injury prevention, the enjoyment of running increases considerably. This results in being able to run longer distances and, for many people, an increase in speed. With Chi Running, your running becomes a mindful practice, meaning it is a way of improving your whole self which you can practise throughout your daily life.

Chi Running is for everyone! Those new to running find the activity becomes a lot easier when they adopt the Chi Running style. Many runners who have struggled with injury for years suddenly find they have got their running back when they  begin Chi Running. Chi Running is also useful for those runners interested in barefoot or minimal running, or those preparing for marathon or ultra marathon distances. Of course you need to be committed to Chi Running to gain the benefits, so if you aren't prepared to invest time in improving your running and your life habits, then maybe carry on as you are!

Danny Dreyer, the inventor of Chi Running, took movement principles from Tai Chi and combined them with the sport of running when he created Chi Running. Chi Running sets up the conditions for your 'Chi,' or life force, to flow through your body.

The main aims of Chi Running are also it's benefits when compared with conventional running. They are energy efficiency (meaning your running will feel easier) and injury prevention. Don't take my word for it, there is scientific research that shows the Chi Running style reduced the impact of running compared with other running styles.

Running is less effort with Chi Running, so therefore both distance and speed will feel easier for you. Speed is not the first and most important aim of Chi Running. Chi Running focusses first on form (technique), then on running longer distances before it focusses on speed. When the technique is followed carefully it will, have an impact on the speed of your running. Some people do find an immediate improvement in their speed when they take up Chi Running. So yes, you can run fast with Chi Running!

Because energy efficiency is right at the heart of the Chi Running technique, is it very beneficial for running longer distances. Many ultra marathon runners adopt the technique. Danny Dreyer, founder of Chi Running, has competed in all the distances right up to the notorious Leadville 100. The mindfulness aspect of the technique is also very beneficial, enabling you to increase your mental focus and hold it for longer.

Chi Running teaches a mid foot strike. It is also very low impact, realxed and natural in style, making it ideally suited to those developing a barefoot or minimal running style.

Where to find me


I live in the Holme Valley, near Huddersfield and on the very northern edge of the Peak District National Park. Workshops are in venues easily accessible from:

Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds, Bradford, Liverpool, Huddersfield, Halifax, Wakefield, Barnsley, Cumbria, West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, Derbyshire and North Wales.


Mountain Training
I am a qualified Mountain Leader, registered with the Mountain Training Association.

Photos of the Holme Valley Landscape are by Andy Leader of Made in Holmfirth

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UKA Leadership in Running Fitness qualified.

I'm UKA Leadership in Running Fitness qualified.