Book Review – Chi Running

I just finished my first reading (but not last) of Chi Running by Danny and Katherine Dreyer. Which I got as one of those Christmas presents I choose while browsing (err shopping) at the Maine Running Company in Portland, but TheWife paid for and wraps for you to get later.

Why would I want a book on Chi Running when I have run for – well let’s just put it this way a long damn time? Quite simply I watched myself run in a video I took earlier in the month and let’s just say that my form sucks.

After seeing myself in action, I did some research on different ways to improve my form and Chi Running was one of three methods that really interested me.

So how was the Chi Running the book?

The Good

Chi Running had some great ideas that I want to add into my running:

  • I can see the importance of the 4 Chi Skills and know that I need to go back and really work on using them:
  • Focusing
  • Body Sensing
  • Breathing
  • Relaxation
  • the idea that correct posture is very important to better running form
  • getting everything moving in the same direction – forward. i.e. my feet instead of running with my feet at about 45 degree angles have them as straight as possible
  • keeping my arms at 90 degree angle and not cross my body
  • creating a column
  • using gravity to propel you – I haven’t got this down yet, but think I am close
  • having a lean to help gravity propel you and changing the lean to change your speed.
  • I am very intrigued by his method of going uphill and want to try that out
  • back in the early 80’s I was introduced to the metronome method of running and used it for a while, so I understand its usefulness to maintain a certain turnover rate, just do it when no one else is running with you.
  • his ideas on how to avoid or aid in healing certain injuries warrants a closer look

I have just touched on a few things that really jumped out at me, the book has a wealth of knowledge, that I believe I will find very useful when I can wrap my head around all the information that it has about changing to Chi Running.

Scratching my head

  • Some of the terminology had me scratching my head, which left me frustrated and overwhelmed that I wasn’t understanding what they were trying to say especially in Chapters 4 & 5.
  • How to level my pelvis is still escaping me
  • I still don’t have a clue what peeling your foot off the ground really means or how to implement it. I think it means lift your foot straight up or something like that – once I get this piece a lot of the others will fall into place.
  • Some other things I just had trouble wrapping my head around should be clearer when I go back through and do more than just read that section.

It almost seems as though just enough information is given to really make you want to go buy the CD that is a companion to the book or attend one of their running workshops. The book attempts to spell out how to begin Chi Running, but in a couple of sections I did get frustrated and overwhelmed with the information being presented and voiced that on Twitter.

Some Chi Running advocates graciously provide links and watching videos of people using Chi Running on YouTube explained a few of the areas I was really having difficulty with. One time through the book, does not give me a lot of confidence that I could completely implement Chi Running to my running yet and the Dryers warn you in the book that you will probably not be able to after only reading the book once and that it will take time to fully implement Chi Running.


I completely agree with that warning and that there is simply too much information being presented to understand Chi Running after one time through their book. It will take a lot of time and effort to completely get a handle on the changes the you will need to do to become proficient in Chi Running.

Need to attend Chi Running Training

When I was complaining about being overwhelmed on Twitter by what was in Chapters 4 and 5, the biggest suggestion that I got on Twitter was that “I should go to one of their full days sessions” and after that I would really understand the power of Chi Running.

Unfortunately, as great a suggestion as this might be and as much as I might want to go to an all day sessions someplace – that is not an option for two reasons,

  1. there are not any local Chi Running training sessions going on in my area that I could find in the near future and travelling is not an option. One of the disadvantages of living up heah in Maine is that we are kind of off the beaten track for a lot of things.
  2. the costs associated with one are simply not in the budget for the foreseeable future.
Re – Read Important Sections

Hopefully after I have gone through the book’s sections that give you the action instructions a few more times and practiced the drills, I will understand better what they are talking about and will be able to make the changes as I go along.

If I decide that Chi Running is what I am looking for in how to change my running form, I will end up buying the CD and when I have some extra cash someday, I will try to find a training session within a days drive to attend. Until then I will muddle along through the book a few more times and watch YouTube videos to help me understand what it is trying to tell me.

Change isn’t easy

Changing a running form that you have had for several years is not going to be easy and I don’t expect it to be. I expect to work hard learning how to run with a better form/style and that I probably won’t get “it” overnight. At the same time I have to wonder a little, if I am overwhelmed now by some of the terminology or expectations that you need more “stuff” to understand the practice of Chi Running, will Chi Running meet my expectations of K.I.S.S.

Worth It

I think that Chi Running has a lot of potential to help me become a better runner and I am looking forward to learning more about Chi Running – it has certainly piqued my interest.

With the little knowledge that I have gained in reading and underlining the book once through, I am starting to consciously run differently than I did before reading the book. I know that I am attempting to use some of the techniques described in the book while running and while I haven’t gotten the knack of how to do circular feet yet – I am making positive progress.

Chi Running is worth looking into a lot further, if you are looking to change your running form. I won’t say it will be for everyone, but it is definitely worth reading the book to see how it meshes with your expectations.

FTC Disclaimer: I have not been provided any compensation or free samples of products as part of this review, they are simply my thoughts on something that I have purchased .

11 thoughts on “Book Review – Chi Running

  1. I just started reading ChiRunning and I do think one concept has already really helped me and this to RELAX… the last few times I've be out running it's just felt good, easy, no stress, no worries, no wishing it was over, etc. Just NICE. That's what I'm going for personally :)But I do have the impression that I'm going to read it and then re-read certain chapters. I also already looked for ChiRunning workshops coming up(and I can travel a bit as it's a tiny country)but I found nothing… it was all stuff that happened in the past and no new updates.I think it's great that you want to work on your running form even after all these years. It's never too late to improve and make it enjoyable!

  2. Thank you for commenting. I agree that Chi Running has a lot of great points, but at times it just seems overly complicated whether that is purposeful or not I could not tell. I like the writing style and much of the information provided but…there is something that I am missing. I hope that I find it as I go back through the book.Gotta try to change what I do, I want to keep running for a long time and if I run like a penguin with my feet splayed and landing on my heels, I won't be.

  3. It is SO worth it! I diligently studied the book and DVD for 4-6 weeks. Every run I focused on a different aspect of ChiRunning until – poof! It call came together. I run with less fatigue, NO injuries for 9+ months (and I was very injury prone prior to that) and was able to knock of 25 minutes off my Half Marathon time since then. Buy the book AND DVD – they compliment each other and the DVD provides a great visual to the book. Finally, take a workshop. That is the moment it all comes together for you (in your brain). I have taken two workshops, my last as a tuneup. I am constantly referring to my ChiRunning book. If I happen to have a twang of pain – I refer to the book to see what it might be from. Lo and behold – when I correct my form, that pain goes away. When you get into that "sweet spot" there is nothing like it.

  4. Harold,Thank you for your interest in ChiRunning. I found CR 6 years ago, have been running injury-free and increasingly longer and faster ever since. It helped me so much, I dropped everything else and became an instructor. Even now, it is still a gradual progress "practice" for me. I am still learning and improving how I run/walk/sit everyday.I have read the book many times and still now find that I missed "getting" parts or need to re-remember them. Not all of the information is to be implemented at the same time. Again, a gradual progression as you are ready for the next step/level.Some thoughts:- The Lean: Careful not to lean too much or bend at the waist. Blog post on that: An Engaged Core for a Level Pelvis: Blog post on that: Peeling of the Feet: This means lot of relaxation and limited tension in the ankle hinge. See if you can land fullfoot (wholefoot) relaxed (as if there 100 points on the bottom of your foot and each is carrying 1/100th of your weight) and then peel your foot off the ground starting at the heel like a stamp off of a sheet and peel off of a banana. A good cue is to body sense *no additional weight pressure in the forefoot* as the heel lifts. The lower leg is loose, limp, very relaxed so you are just using the structure of the leg for momentary support.- K.I.S.S.: ChiRunning is actually very simple; and very instinctive as we ran as kids. Sometimes a change to simple is still a change that will take time. The keys are a) take it easy on yourself, this is not meant to be learned overnight, b) be consistent, so you are creating new habits, and c) just pick 1-2 points to focus on at a time.The CD is a good resource for those that learn more visually. No matter how you learn, it will take some time to adjust position/motion and create new habits. Certainly working with an instructor will give you a hands-on experience with specific feedback.Enjoy,David.

  5. Charlene – Thank you for commenting – unfortunately, the CD and workshops will have to wait until later. I will go back into the book and try to pick up the things that I have missed, misunderstood or left me confused. Your support and information in this comment and others you have made give me a lot of hope that I will "get it" and find the sweetspot.David – Thank you for clarifying some of the things that were confusing me and adding the links to help me understand them better. As far as CR employing the KISS principle, I would have to disagree with you for right now. After you "get it" CR might become very simple, but getting to that point doesn't seem to meet my definition of what I would consider a simple process. It doesn't mean that I am going to give up on CR because I can see a lot of positive things that it does, however, converting my running form to CR is not in my mind a simple or intuitive process. It is one that you constantly have to focus on doing, instead of just doing as a beginner and it is not something you can do quickly, it does take time. Thank you again for commenting and helping me to understand CR better – it seems like it will be worth the time and effort, once I get it.

  6. This book was recommended to me by my sports medicine doc a few years ago after letting a shin splint become a stress fracture. The book has helped me to concentrate more on what my body is doing while I'm running, but like you it is hard to really know how you are doing without the workshop. I have gone back to it many times and always find something that I missed or have forgotten.

  7. Amy – thank you for commenting. I think the secret to Chi Running is attending the workshops, while you can learn a lot from reading and watching the videos, but from what I am hearing to really "get it" you have to actually take the workshop. I may be wrong, but right now at my present level of CR knowledge it seems that way. I am still looking forward to trying to figure out CR and it will be part of my journey in running over the next few month and hopefully longer.H

  8. I just found your blog and have been looking through some of your book reviews.I have been working with this Chi technique for the past couple of years. I got the book and accompanying DVD from my local library. Also the Chi Walking book and DVD and it helped me understand some of the running technique a bit better.I became a believer when I started practicing the hill work – so helpful and that footstrike pattern is great on very steep hills. I actually seek out hills now just to keep practising.I have also learned not to overstride as this caused problems with my hip sockets on longer runs. Do keep at it.

  9. Elle – I am glad to hear that you are looking forward to running hills since you started Chi Running. I still don't like them, but up heah can't go too far without finding one, so hearing someone say that using the techniques in the book help with that give me even more hope.Unfortunately, none of our libraries in the area have either, so eventually I will have to buy the CD, just working on the book right now. Thank you for taking the time to comment. 🙂

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