Freedom To Run - Ease, Efficiency, Speed

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

Freedom To Run - Blog

This blog is all about my journey with Chi Running. I try to discuss all aspects of the practice. I also write a book review for every book I read about running. Please DO post comments below - you don't event need to have an account - just leave your name :)

I just ran at 4000m altitude ... in London!

I just got back from an inspirational workshop with Patrick McKeown, leading global expert on the buteyko breathing method and developer of The Oxygen Advantage approach to breathing for runners.  The day included a combination of the theory and science behind the Buteyko method and how it applies to running. We had plenty of practical opportunities to practise a range of exercises which help correct dysfunctional breathing and also that simulate high altitude training. This blog is a bit of a mash up of links, quotes, tips and pictures that give a quick flavour of the day.
If you're not sure whether this might be of interest to you, Patrick's bio on his Buteyko Clinic website says this:
"Did you know that mouth breathing significantly increases the risk of abnormal development of children's faces, crooked teeth, snoring, obstructive sleep apnea, poor concentration, ADHD, respiratory problems including asthma, hay fever and poor sports performance?"
During one of the sessions I used a pulse oximeter to measure my oxygen saturation, which went down to 90% - so according to this graph that's 4000m altitude!
Oxygen Saturation at Altitude
Since reading the book and writing my previous blog on The Oxygen Advantage I have realised that I have been habitually over breathing for the whole of my life, and have already taken steps to correct this and am regularly simulating high altitude situations whilst running through the use of breath holding techniques. The book made a link between many of the health conditions that have affected me throughout my life, and the way I have been breathing, so I'm really hoping to improve my running but also my whole health bu following this method.
I particularly enjoyed Patrick's soft, non judgemental and supportive approach. Despite there being a clear history of over breathing in my case, I didn't feel 'like I'd been doing it all wrong' because of Patrick's non-judgemental attitude. He also spent a great deal of time encouraging us to accept our current BOLT (Body Oxygen Level Test) score and habits and just start from wherever we are now.
I've also started to experiment with a nose clip from rhinomed to expand my nasal passages and help me nose breathe- thanks for that Patrick!
So I'm left feeling really positive about the future of my health, wellbeing and improvement in running. I'm expecting to see some real improvements in my running as well as some great health benefits. I'm also hoping that my children might not go the same way I did!
If you didn't make it to the day, here is a graphic that I made from all the notes I took on my ipad. 
Photo 28-02-2016 19 26 25
A few videos from the day were fascinating. You can watch quite a few of them here.
To finish with, here are a few inspiring and memorable notes, tips and quotes from the day. These are my own notes, so please don't think they are word perfect.
When breathing is difficult, the running often isn't the issue .... Everyday breathing is usually the issue.
Identify if you have the signs of dysfunctional breathing - breathing through the mouth, dry mouth after sleep.
You can tell if someone is a lifelong mouth breather by their facial structure
Question. Can you run with absolute relaxation?
Light breathing causes more oxygen to be delivered to cells
Co2 is needed for oxygen delivery to cells it is not a waste gas
Do you understand the physiological aspects of stress?
The Oxygen Advantage simulated high altitude training exercises can improve vo2 max and running economy.
Remember: With breathing, less is worth more. All authentic practitioners of breathing focus on this.
If you can run with every cell of your body, then you will be in a state of complete relaxation
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Learn How To Walk (mindfully)

Mindfulness is becoming a household term. What if we could develop habits as part of our daily routine that not only help us remain calm and focused but are also good for our bodies? What if we could be kinder to our bodies in the process, developing healthy lifelong habits that help us to exercise for our whole lives?

Learning to walk and run more mindfully can do just that.

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Stuck for which running book to read next? Let me help ...

I've read all these and they are great reads. They all all highly relevant to the Chi Runner (or in fact any runner.) Why not pick your next read now?


Chi Running Books

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High Peak 40 Mile Challenge 2014 - a Chi Runner's review

Phew! I just completed my first Ultra Marathon.
Why did I enter?
When I took up Chi Running a few years ago, I had made a decision to run regularly and be determined about becoming injury free - hence Chi Running. Chi Running was developed by Danny Dreyer, an ultra runner from the U.S. and together with stories of ultra running from various books such as Feet In The Clouds by Richard Asquith (see my blog) and Born To Run (see my blog) I guess I couldn't resist entering an event like this eventually.
Friends also inspired me to run an ultra (thanks Wil) and I guess I've been through a process of breaking through mental boundary after mental boundary over the last through few years. I hadn't done a marathon before this event, but I had taken on a succession of long fell races including the Holme Moss Race, the Three Peaks Race, and various Dark and White Challenge events. My aim would be to complete the race and be comfortable the next day.
How did I prepare?
I'm not the only person in my family wanting to train and take part in leisure, so I knew from the start that training for long hours and mileage wasn't going to happen. Also, I was coming back from some time off after an operation, so was mindful that I didn't want to over train. After completing the Holme Moss Fell Race in July I put 4 long training runs in the diary. 15, 18, 22 and 30. It wasn't ideal in terms of gradual progress, but I was determined to get to the 30 mile distance in training. Also, I had easier weeks after each long run in order to allow my body to recover. During August I ran a total of 102 miles. This seems pathetic compared to the distance that many do in preparation for events like marathons, however it was the most intensive month of my life and it would need to suffice. Worrying about inadequate training would be counter productive, and experience told me that I could run for many hours in the hills without needing to stop.
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Walk to Run

Chi Running is a style of running that has injury prevention as one of it's main aims. Unfortunately I can't prevent everything else that can affect your running! I've been recovering from an operation (not due to running) over the last few weeks. The Doctor took one look at my physique and knew I was a runner. He told me to take 8 weeks off. My next question... can I walk?

As a Chi Runner, I always have a few form focusses that I believe are pertinent for my own personal form at any given point in time.

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Chi walk run

Book and DVD Review: Chi Walk to Run - Fitness for Life!

There are lots different ways to 'get in to' Chi walking and running. I've studied this book and DVD set tonight, as I have a friend who wants to transition from walking her dog in to going for a run.

The DVD is full if really helpful posture checks and visual demonstrations. It reiterates lots of key concepts from the Chi Walking and Chi running materials. Ideas to remind you about key concepts on posture such as 'Sit up in your chair' and the 'C shape' really do help reinforce the book. There is advise I would suggest probably all walkers and runners could do with, such as how to reduce injury risk from toe off. Examples and explanation of good arm swing are also very useful. If you are a visual person, I'd really suggest using a DVD such as this alongside the books if you are thinking about learning Chi Walking or Running.
Personally I could loose the pan pipes.

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Relaxed Chi Walking on Rails... snow rails!

A great week for walking and running. There are SO many different focusses in Chi Running and Chi Walking. That's why I enjoy the mindful approach, and also one that demonstrates patience, and kindness to yourself. There's no rush, and you can't possibly get everything right all at once. With all these different areas to consider in your form, I've been trying to find ways to use nature to prompt me and remind me to correct my form, rather than relying on beeps and timers.

There is a running focus and a walking focus where you pretend you are 'on rails.' The idea being that you align your feet and entire legs as if you are running or walking along railway lines.

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Chi Walking by Danny and Katherine Dreyer - thoughts on Chapter 1

I just love the way Danny is a total and complete evangelist for the health benefits of walking in this chapter. He shares some of his personal experiences  walking and it really strikes me that he is totally passionate about walking. In fact, it got me thinking about my own life. As a child, I used to go walking in the Shropshire hills with my brothers and sister. As I got older I explored Snowdonia, Scotland and the Lake District with my father. As soon as I could be trusted (!) I was leading groups of friends on wild camping trips along long distance footpaths such as The Ridgeway. Then I completed he West Highland Way and the Pennines Way in 1994. I can vividly remember waiting for a day in Kendal the days after finishing the Pennine Way. I really had nothing to do and my legs felty so 'wrong' doing nothing after walking hills every day for 19 days. The solution? I walked the whole length of the town to Kendal castle and back... I just

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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

Freedom To Run Newsletter

As seen in Runners World

UKA Leadership in Running Fitness qualified.

I'm UKA Leadership in Running Fitness qualified.