Half Marathon Race Report - Chi Running

Half Marathon Race Report

Posted by Danny Dreyer on Sat Sep 12th, 2009, 21 comments

Another race day today. I ran in the Asheville Citizen Times Half Marathon. The week immediately following my 10K Trail Championship race I ran easy but hilly runs and then, since these two races were only two weeks apart, stepped right back into resuming by training for this race. In order to do race specific training, I did most of my training runs on the half marathon course, which is an extremely hilly course meandering through the neighborhoods on the north side of the city. I basically trained right up to the race, doing 6-7 mile runs every day (with the exception of a bike day) until the Friday before the race, when I “tapered.”

My strategy during my training runs and during the race was to use my legs as little as possible on all the uphill sections, while at the same time exaggerating the use of my upper body (forward armswing and increased lean). On the downhill sections my objective was to lean into the downhills and allow my stride to lengthen as much as possible. I was basically trying to run as fast as I could safely manage on all the downhills by cooperating with the pull of gravity.

On the uphills and flats I was also toying with a new concept I’m working on with my stride where I’m using my obliques to drive my pelvis (the active use of pelvic rotation) which in turn drives my legs. Running this way allows me to hold a good pace on the uphills without using any leg muscle per se because my legs become simply an extension of my pelvis. It is proving to work incredibly well, and tonight as I’m writing this blog I don’t sense even a smidgeon of fatigue or soreness in my legs. For those of you just learning the ChiRunning technique, I don’t advise attempting this technique until you are at the point with your running where you are adept at neutralizing your legs, using them strictly for momentary support between strides and never for propulsion. I’ll talk more about this technique in future blogs and I hope to incorporate it into future “advanced” ChiRunning courses. Let me know if you’d be interested in hearing more.

The physical details: I finished first in my age group with a chip time of 1:37:38, an average pace of 7:27/mile. I’m guessing the course had a total elevation gain of over 1000′. I ran the race in a pair of the new Newton shoe called the Isaac. We had absolutely perfect race weather with heavy cloud cover and temperatures in the 60′s-low 70′s. The race was extremely well organized and supported with aid stations about every mile and a half! The volunteers were fabulous.

If you’d ever like to run a challenging but beautiful 13-mile tour of Asheville I highly suggest training for this one. It’s right up there in my list of the most beautiful race courses.



  • downhill running,
  • half marathon training,
  • race training,
  • racing,
  • road racing,
  • up hill running

21 CommentsLeave a comment below

what a great run! I would be very interested in hearing more about the oblique technique. It peaked my interest listening about it at the end of your MIT presentation.

Also how did you like the new Isaac. I would be very interested in your feedback. Does it still have those actuator lugs which do not give a true midfoot strike? 
p.s. I am coming down there this month for the Workshop.

Congratulations on the age category win. Tell me, how do you like the Newtons? Are they a good replacement for NB790s?

Bill Saunders Sep 13th, 2009 10:50am

I’d also like your thoughts on the new Newton Isaac. I recall you didn’t really care for their other models. Also what did you think of the La Sportiva Crosslite shoe you used in the Trail championship race? And lastly, congratulations to you on your efforts in both races. You truly are an inspiration!

Great win Danny - well done!  I also am very interested to hear if the Newtons are your replacement for the 790’s - have you tried the vff’s yet?

Congrats, Danny!  And thanks for blogging about your training and races—you’re an inspiration to many. —Steve

Laura Houston Sep 13th, 2009 07:32pm

Wow! Congratulations!

I like running in this particular model of Newtons, but I would not recommend them for beginning runners. I think of them as a “performance enhancement” shoe, more suited to someone already running with a midfoot strike and comfortable running with a forward lean. These shoes require that you keep your center of mass over (or forward of) your foot plant but they will not train you to do so. They feel flatter than the previous models (which felt like running in Earth Shoes). They also have proven true to their word of making you faster. I understand now how the design works and it works well, but I’m still more of a proponent of making the adjustments to the runner from the inside out. I would not consider them a replacement for the NB 790’s because the 790’s are more flexible, lighter and give you a much better feel for the ground beneath your feet.

The LaSportivas are built very low to the ground, they’re very flexible and light weight, and they have probably the most aggressive outer sole I’ve ever seen. They’re a great trail all-round trail running shoe.

Hope this helps,

see my post to Bill Saunders above…

see my report to Bill Saunders above…

You not only: talk the talk, you teach it, and race it. I do not know of any others that actually practice and/or still race what they write about and teach. Not only still running but winning races. Congratulations on your latest 2 wins!

I’m interested to hear about this use of the obliques to rotate the hips - I’ve found myself doing this in the past on steep hills, or when doing speedwork, but didn’t know if I should encourage or discourage it!

Richard Hefner Sep 17th, 2009 05:06pm

Hi Danny… I finished 2nd in your age group in this race (1:39:46) and heard your name at the awards and knew it sounded familiar but I didn’t realize who you were at the time. I just started running a year ago (Labor Day 2008) and the Asheville Citizen-Times Half Marathon was my 52nd race. So far I feel lucky that I haven’t had any injuries at all and feel good. I’ve considered trying ChiRunning but since I’ve done fine just running with what feels natural I’ve been hesitant to try to change this. My most recent 5k was 21:05 and 10k was 43:11, which is pretty competitive in the 55-59 age group. Would you recommend somebody like me changing to ChiRunning? I’ve had it in the back of my mind that I would want to do something like this if (or when) I get injured. Should I wait until then or is that foolish?

If I were you, I wouldn’t so much learn ChiRunning for injury-prevention as I would for increased efficiency and possibly more speed. Since you’re racing as much as you are without injuries, you must be doing something right. But I’ve come across very few runners who couldn’t get more efficient with their movement. Hope to see you in a class sometime soon.

Bonnie Reszel Oct 4th, 2009 07:19pm

I am very interested in hearing more about using obliques to drive the pelvis uphill.


I am a beginning chi runner.  A fairly over weight (5’9” and 190 lbs) and flat feet, over pronator.

I am recovering from knee injury and I know for a fact that my current shoes and orthotics do not work for me :(.

I am looking to start over and use this opportunity to buy a new pair of shoes.

For someone like me, what shoes would you recommend?  I am going to start very slow and focus on my form and take one chi focus at a time. 

Is the New Balance 800 a good shoe to start?

With Chirunning, running faster requires a longer stride with faster leg movement to cover a greater distance with the same cadence.  With me, there seems to be terminal velocity for my gravity assisted leg swing no matter what angle I am leaning with.  Where is my leg speed likely being constrained?  I’m guessing it is in the rear quadrant inflection point that I’m not getting enough force to move faster.  Any suggestions?

If your cadence isn’t up to 90, that’s one place you can work on your leg speed. Also, at faster speeds it is crucial that you allow your pelvis to rotate with each stride. This will give each stride an extra 3” which will translate into speed. It is also most important to let your heels float up higher at faster speeds. This shortens the pendulum of your legs and allows them to swing faster.

Best wishes with this. I hope it helps.

Certified Instructors Blog » Running form - Nov 19th, 2009 09:36am

[...] day, after the morning exerises and body looseners, we ran on roads. Danny had taught us some new tricks to apply when running up and down hills, and we headed out to a deserted road to try them out. For [...]

Certified Instructors Blog » Slow Down to Li Nov 26th, 2009 08:48pm

[...] in itself, considering the wet and muddy conditions. With each hill, I got a chance to practice the new uphill technique, and really feel it in my body. It was all so effortless, I felt like I never got beyond the easy [...]

Margaret Becker Jan 5th, 2010 08:30am

I am brand new to ChiRunning, and I recently switched to the Lady Isaac Guidance Trainer. I didn’t expect to really notice a difference, but I was amazed at how much more comfortable the mid-foot strike was.

Certified Instructors Blog » Variety In Uphi Jan 11th, 2010 11:45pm

[...] I was about 15 yards behind a couple of people so I decided to focus all my attention on one of the new tricks Danny taught us at the Instructor Weekend in November.  The next thing I knew I was alongside them [...]

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