Chi Walk-Run Your Way To Fitness and Health - Chi Running

Chi Walk-Run Your Way To Fitness and Health

Posted by Keith McConnell on Mon Oct 24th, 2011, 5 comments

Chi Walk-Run Your Way To Fitness and Health

Exciting news from Chi Living!

Danny and Katherine Dreyer have completed the development of the first DVD and Program on the Chi Walk-Run approach. Based upon the foundations of Chi Running and Chi Walking, the Walk-Run approach offers another energy efficient and injury-free way to move forward.  Concurrent with the release of this interesting and informative DVD and the accompanying Program, a new blog has been launched to focus on Chi Walk-Run and I am pleased to have been asked to take the lead in making this blog a reality.

In this, my first Chi Walk-Run blog, I would like to introduce some of the basic ideas/issues of the Walk-Run model and to share my recent experience completing a Half Marathon using the Chi Walk-Run approach. What do we mean by Walk-Run, who might find it of interest, when is it most useful, how can it be learned, etc.?

Briefly speaking, combining walking and running (more specifically, Chi Walking and Chi Running) in your fitness workout is pretty straightforward and creates new opportunities for aerobic activity and benefits that may be harder to attain with a strict walking-only or running-only approach. Some people choose to be “runners”, some choose to be “walkers” but there are many people who would like to do both  – and to feel good about doing both. There are also people who aren’t aware that combining walking and running is even a possibility - they may see walking as “less than” running or they see running as “too competitive” or “too strenuous” but it hasn’t occurred to them to combine the two forms of movement for increased personal value overall.

Rather than simply prescribing how much walking and how much running to do in a workout or race, and calling that a Walk-Run program,  we at Chi Living take a more individualized approach to Walk-Run that emphasizes energy efficiency, self-awareness and personal choice and responsibility. Within a reasonable and sometimes variable ratio of walking to running, we suggest that people be guided by a self-monitoring process. How much walking and how much running is best suited to your goals? How are you feeling today and what level of self-perceived effort are you looking for at this time? Perhaps you would like to work up to totally running certain events.

Let me use my experience of doing Walk-run in the recent Humboldt Redwoods Half Marathon in Northern California to exemplify what I am talking about. My preparation for this race included a number of my usual Walk-Run workouts so I felt “ready” for completing the Half using this approach. (FYI, sometimes I run all of a race and other times I may totally walk a race).  At the Humboldt Redwoods, over the 13.1 miles, I probably went back and forth between walking and running about 20 times, varying one or the other to a mile or so. My ongoing guiding principle/coach was “energy efficiency” which included such things as my attitude, my body sensing (physical state) as to what suited me at a particular time, the terrain (level? uphill? downhill?) and what could handle it best, working with gravity in general, and more. Without getting into the mechanics of transitioning from walking to running and vice versa, let me just say that the actual process of keeping both Chi Walking and Chi Running in my awareness with the focus on one of them at a time, was very manageable and very valuable. There was a true sense of teamwork with walking and running being equal partners, allies in a shared undertaking and purpose; and there was a smooth transition between the two.

The half marathon was pain-free and injury-free as I never felt tired nor stressed nor strained by what I was doing. Compared to doing a Half either totally running or totally walking, it felt even more pain-free and effortless. At the end, I was still full of energy with a completion time not much more than if I had tried running the whole distance. One of the fun aspects of  Walk-Run in this event was the “leapfrogging” I did with my runner-gal friend whose running was faster than I walked but slower than my running speed, resulting in a hand-in-hand, joint finish that we both enjoyed immensely. And, needless to say, my recovery from the half was pretty much instantaneous – no sore muscles, no super tired feeling, just a relaxed calmness after completion and in the hours and days to follow. For me, it was a clear validation of some of the benefits of the Walk-Run approach.

Next blog, I’ll say more about fitness workouts using Chi Walk-Run and describe some of the “mechanics” of putting Chi Walking and Chi Running together in his way. In the meantime, give it a try – I’m sure you’ll find it a positive and rewarding experience.


  • race-specific training,
  • walking event training,
  • Walk-Run


Thanks Keith. This sounds exciting as a transitory program. I’ve been grounded from running since June11 due to a chronic lower back pain and stiffness. I was to start chi running before that happend. Now I am perusing the chi walking book. Hope to start chi walking now.
My question is do you think i should get started on effecient chi walking first before taking this as the next step? or should i go for the chi walk-run program directly? 

And Belated Happy Birthday Danny! Thanks for all the good work you are doing!

Diane Morse Nov 6th, 2011 05:08pm

This is a very interesting concept.  I have never enjoyed running much and have been racewalking - turned chi walker for the past 20 years.  Since the body does like to have alternate exercise, this makes a lot of sense.  Walking and running have their own strains on the body when repeated over time.  I can see where this may help with a reduction in injuries and maybe even with an increase in training benefit.  I love the idea of listening to your body and going with what feels right for the day and the conditions.  Right now I am having a lot of issues with sciatic pain and it is difficult for me to walk, perhaps changing it up would help.

Keith McConnell - author Nov 10th, 2011 06:22pm

Thanks for above interest. Body awareness will be useful to both of you. Kazaan - starting with Chi Walking is a good idea if you have chance; later, the transitional step to running will be easier. Diane - you’re already on track to Chi Walk-Run given your experience with Chi Walking. I’d guess the combination will work well and trying something new could ease current problem. Worth a try. Keep me posted, good luck, Keith

Rhonda Flowers Nov 15th, 2011 03:54am

I really like this approach, very respectful of the body. Thank you for sharing your experience with us.

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Keith McConnell Nov 17th, 2011 01:48pm

Thanks, Rhonda - yes, I think Chi Walk-Run is especially respectful of the body. The old refrain, “no pain, no gain” has no role in this approach.  Enjoy,  Keith

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