Running technique (ChiRunning)

  • Are you constantly injured and fed up with it? Do you want to move pain-free?
  • Do you find running boring?
  • Do you want to learn to run faster, both for beginners and top performers?
  • Do you find it interesting to learn to run as a form of meditation?
  • Do you want to recover faster?
  • Do you want to be able to keep moving for years to come?
  • Do you want to learn to move more easily and from a place of relaxation?

ChiRunning makes it possible! Modern trends, such as natural running, natural running, barefoot running and minimalist running have arisen because runners with the traditional technique (and the associated traditional footwear) suffer many injuries and miss the natural feeling of running.

However, just walking around in minimalist shoes or barefoot carries great risks. ChiRunning is a running technique plus learning method that gives you the foundation to run naturally, as far and for as long as you want. This protects your joints, muscles and tendons, so that the risk of overuse injuries is minimal.

Below we explain where ChiRunning comes from and what its main characteristics are.

Power Running vs ChiRunning

A popular saying is: 'no pain, no gain' . You have to work hard to get better. The usual way of running can be described as Power Running. The load on the body is great and requires a lot of strength. To cope with this load, and thus to prevent injuries, it is recommended to develop more muscle strength. However, the question is whether this is always so effective. It is generally agreed that the Kenyans are especially successful because they have such light, slender legs. Lifting the legs therefore takes little energy.

Of course you can also put it the other way around: they don't need heavy muscles, because they run so efficiently. The Kenyan way of running and ChiRunning have many characteristics in common. The basic principle of ChiRunning is that strength training and strength development of the leg muscles becomes unnecessary for most runners by improving the running technique. Extra muscle strength is not necessary to run faster, nor to prevent injuries.
ChiRunning: for whom?

Of course there are runners who (partly) have to run on strength. These are the track athletes who make their lightning-fast laps on spikes. You cannot achieve such speeds without the use of strength, although relaxation also plays an important role. But it can be said that the longer the distance, the less force is important as a factor. Those who run long distances need to engage their muscles much less than often actually happens. In addition, there are many runners who do not strive for top results. Or who are easily injured by excessive running training. ChiRunning is therefore ideally suited for:

– Long distance runners (including competitive runners)

– Injury prone runners

The track athletes don't have to click away right now. They can benefit greatly from aspects of ChiRunning such as good posture and relaxation. How often does a tough track workout go perfectly, but a day later the hamstring cramps or a whip occurs during a normal long run? You would like to prevent that.
The 'Chi' in ChiRunning

If muscle strength and strong legs are not the starting point, what do you use in ChiRunning? The answer is 'Chi'. Chi is the power that is also recognized in acupuncture, in the martial arts Aikido and Tai Chi and the movement art Chi Kung. The Chi resides in your 'core', your center. This power center is your starting point.

This also applies to Yoga and the popular Pilates. It's about using this force and making it work together with the force of nature, gravity.
Mind & Body

You can tap into these forces by focusing mentally and relaxing your body. In that sense, ChiRunning is a 'conscious' way of running. Another mental point is motivation.

Often runners are driven by external motivations: wanting to be better than others or a specific person, wanting recognition from others, wanting to be faster than a certain time. Overexertion and injuries are then lurking. There is a tendency to want to go faster or further at all costs, even if the running technique and/or condition does not (yet) allow this.

In ChiRunning the process is central: developing the running technique. The process is the goal. Speed is a by-product.
Again Power Running vs ChiRunning

Briefly, the differences between Power Running and ChiRunning can be described as follows.

Muscle, Result-oriented, More is better, Effort, Long recovery time needed between workouts, 'no pain, no gain'.

Vitality / Chi, Process–oriented, Less is more, Relaxation, No/little recovery time needed between workouts, 'no pain, no pain'.
For many a runner / runner plagued by injuries, this sounds like great stuff. More about the backgrounds and technology will follow shortly.
Main principles of Tai Chi
ChiRunning combines the ancient Chinese wisdom of Tai Chi with modern knowledge from exercise science. This creates the specific ChiRunning way of running. Which T'ai Chi principles are so important now?

Go with the forces

The principle comes from the Eastern martial arts that you do not counter a force with an opposing force. You go along with the forces you encounter and use them to your advantage. With ChiRunning, this means letting the force of the road ahead pass under you and letting gravity pull you forward.

'Needle in cotton wool'

This is the image of a steel needle in a cotton ball: a strong core and a soft exterior. With ChiRunning you work on a powerful center on the one hand and relaxation in the limbs on the other. The more you can relax your legs, the easier you walk.

Gradual progress

You cannot complete any important learning process in one day. You work on the basics first. Only when you have the basics do you move on to the next building block, and so on. It takes time to unlearn old moves and learn new ones. This has to be reprogrammed in the brain by creating new neuroconnections. Furthermore, ChiRunning is process oriented and not result oriented. With the right technique you automatically improve the distance and speed: 'technique – distance – speed'.
The basic attitude
1. The basic attitude

Posture is the first and most important building block for ChiRunning. As with Yoga, Tai Chi, Chi Kung and Pilates, this posture is achieved from the core. The pelvis plays an important role in this. The pictures show the correct posture and the wrong posture. At this point it is important to feel relaxation in the limbs (relaxed shoulders, loose knees and ankles). Good posture is conditional to being able to perform the ChiRunning technique properly. The resulting balance ensures less muscle strain and thus fewer back, shoulder and neck complaints, as well as hip and knee injuries.

2. Inclination

By leaning slightly forward in this basic position, the runner brings the center of gravity in front of the feet. Once that's the case, gravity takes over. This is the force that will eventually pull the runner forward. It is important that the ankles are completely relaxed during this incline so that the heel does not lift off the ground too early. The inclination is crucial from an energy point of view, as it allows the use of gravity. It is also important for injury prevention. By leaning, the feet no longer land on the ground far in front of the runner, but as close to the body's center of gravity as possible. This prevents a heel landing. Landing is on the midfoot. Landing on the heel puts a lot of strain on the knees and shins. A forefoot landing puts more stress on the calves.

3. Lifting the feet

The feet are simply lifted at the back. The heel comes off the ground first. The toes follow relaxed. Compare it to removing a stamp from a roll. So there is no push. This saves a lot of energy. It also puts less strain on calves and Achilles tendons. The elasticity of the hamstrings is used. After lifting, the foot makes a circular movement and then lands behind the body's center of gravity. The knees remain relatively low during this movement. Knee lifting is therefore not part of the ChiRunning exercises, but knee bending is.

4. Using the arms

The arm movement is important for rhythm and balance. This is also a movement that takes place from relaxation. The arm works like a pendulum: the shorter the pendulum, the easier (and faster) it moves back and forth. That is why having an angle of approx. 90º is ideal. The arms should not make sideways movements. Everything must be geared towards achieving a forward movement. Good arm use supports the right way of running. When these four building blocks are combined, a flexible, energy-efficient and less injury-prone way of running is created: ChiRunning. This is what ChiRunning looks like: After learning these first steps, the technique is further expanded with walking at different paces and hill technique.

1. ChiRunning workshop one day 10:00-17:00 €155 PP

2. ChiRunning workshop two days 2 x 3 hours €155 PP

3. ChiRunning group workshop 7 hours €700 regardless of the number of participants (but from 8 people the personal attention decreases)

4.Personal coaching trajectory €190 for 3.5 hours

With ChiRunning, the cadence always remains the same, regardless of the pace. This cadence is quite high compared to what is common for many people. There are two reasons for this:

1. Due to a high stride frequency, the standing foot only stays on the ground for a short time. It is important to have short ground contact, because long ground contact requires more effort from the leg muscles.

2. With a low stride rate, there is a tendency to take long strides forward. This causes a heel landing in front of the center of gravity, which gives a higher shock load and therefore an increased risk of knee problems, shin splints, et cetera. The target cadence is around 85 – 90 per foot per minute, depending on the height of the runner. This means that each foot hits the ground 85 – 90 times per minute. As a rule of thumb, smaller runners will have a slightly higher cadence than taller runners. Top runners often sit a little higher with their cadence. Measurement of the running frequencies of some top runners during the Rotterdam Marathon in 2006 yielded the following:
Fit frequency Men&Women

Maase 88, Korir 91, Koech 90, Van den Broek 95, Umeki 94
Loroupe 96, Gishu 96, Javornik 96, Klimina 97, Loonen 93

The starting point with ChiRunning is now that this frequency is also maintained at a slower pace. Your stride rate stays with you as your own steady rhythm.
Stride length
If the stride frequency is always the same, then it is the stride length that changes as the tempo changes. The faster you run, the longer the strides. This is not done by bringing the legs further forward or by raising the knees. The feet also land as close as possible below the body's center of gravity at a higher pace. The pass opens mainly at the back. The heels rise higher, the circle the feet make gets bigger. This is promoted by a rotation of the pelvis about the longitudinal axis. All this is easier if the hips, back and legs are sufficiently relaxed.

Note: increasing the tempo is done by leaning slightly more forward. The trunk position remains the same. The latter is mainly done by the abdominal muscles. The legs should be more relaxed. This is where the aforementioned principle of the strong core and relaxed exterior returns, the image of the 'needle in the cotton ball'.
By playing with the degree of incline, you can run in different 'paces'. Four global paces can be distinguished.

1. Warm up pace

2. Endurance walking pace (talking pace, aerobic)

3. Race Pace (Around the Anaerobic Threshold)

4. Sprint pace (anaerobic)

Every pace requires a little more inclination. The degree of inclination and the speed you walk should be in agreement. If you lean too much for the speed you're walking, the lower leg muscles have to work hard to keep you upright. If you incline too little for the speed you are walking, you will have to push off with the feet and you run the risk of the feet landing in front of the body's center of gravity.
With ChiRunning, hills can be taken in a relaxed way. With gradual hills, this only requires minor adjustments in the technique. Specific techniques have been developed for steep hills.

Speed is not the primary focus. ChiRunning mainly focuses on as little stress as possible for muscles, tendons and joints. But speed enthusiasts need not fear: the advanced ChiRunner allows you to descend hills at a particularly fast pace!
ChiRunning exercises
At ChiRunning, the usual running training is not an issue. Much attention is paid to loosening exercises. The more flexible the ankles, knees, hips, back and shoulders, the easier it is to walk in a relaxed manner.

The abs do require a little extra attention. Not by doing a lot of sit-ups, for example (a washboard or six pack is not necessary). The abs develop naturally by consistently applying the correct posture. This process can be supported with specific posture exercises.

The exercises associated with ChiRunning are mainly intended to feel the correct posture and movements in the body, so that you can check whether you are doing it right while running. This 'body sensing' is a skill that is of great importance to ChiRunning.
Learn ChiRunning
ChiRunning can be learned from Danny Dreyer's book and DVD. However, many people prefer to be taught by an instructor with direct directions and feedback. This can speed up the learning process considerably. There are now various options for this in the Netherlands.

ChiRunning is feasible for everyone. You do not need to have any prior knowledge of Tai Chi. Patience and dedication are the most important necessities. The reward is carefree enjoyment of your sport.

Example before and 3 months after the ChiRunning Workshop