Freedom To Run - Ease, Efficiency, Speed

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

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.

I had a couple of really great mindful experiences this week, running off road in the snow at night. Thursday night was particularly magical. Snowy trails through Honley Wood, and not a soul apart from myself. There seemed to be absolute silence and stillness around me. All I could hear was my own breath and my crunching feet. And at quite a few moments I could actually hear the snowflakes brushing on my face and clothing as they landed.

It was great to take my mind off my running and be attentive of all that was around me. In return, I'm sure focussing on the snowflakes and the silence helped me to relax and concentrate on my running focusses when it felt right to do that. It was really nice to let my mind change from my environment, to my body, and then back again without a beeping stop watch (which I often find disturbs my thinking.)

This book is an autobiographical account of the first continuous traverse of all 303 Mountains of Britain and Ireland. And guess what? He did it all uninjured!

Everyone should read a few books like this one, whether you run, walk, or neither. 2000 miles in 97 days, half a million feet of mountains, 277 Munros, 4 English tops, 15 Welsh Peaks + 7 Irish Summits. How about that for expanding your horizons. I must say, along with Born to Run and a couple of other books, this one really helped me shift my own personal horizons and beliefs considerably. I kept catching myself thinking thinks like "If Hugh can run 2000 miles, surely 20.... or 30.... or 40 wouldn't be that far... especially if you take our the mountains." This achievement makes running the Bob Graham Round look small fry.

The book is written mainly in diary style and is accompanied by

One of my favourite running workouts now is just a 'fun run.' I head about and just play around with form and speed depending on the terrain and how I feel. Today I my 6 mile run included 2km flat out in 'gear 3,' some hill work, gear 1 and 2 work mucking around with my lean and arm swing. It's good (and probably best) to just one form focus for a run. But sometimes it's good to relax, no pressure, and just have a play,not worry if your mind wanders. For me, this makes for a very relaxing and enjoyable run. There are loads of ideas in the chi running book for different focuses that you can use.

I used to feel bit frustrated when I lost concentration whilst running. On a 5k race, or a

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

Those were the words somebody said to me tonight as I set out for a run.

These are a few personal thoughts on this subject and I really do hope they don't come across as judgemental, as I really do understand that different people are in different places mentally and physically.

I used to think like that about the kind of running people who you see running around the Holme Valley, where I live. I was aware of races such as the Holme Moss Race (25.5 km and 1285m of Climb of some of the toughest terrain around) and also the Holmfirth 15 (yes, 15 miles!) As you drive around the Holme Valley you see a lot of very fit people out running. And the hills are steep round here. Very steep. It's so easy to think that must be impossible. But remember that the words we say to ourselves inside our heads have a very good habit of becoming true for us, both on the positive side and the negative side.

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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As seen in Runners World

UKA Leadership in Running Fitness qualified.

I'm UKA Leadership in Running Fitness qualified.