Improve Your Performance Without Injury - Chi Running

Improve Your Performance Without Injury

Posted by Danny Dreyer on Thu Oct 9th, 2008, 10 comments

In a recent NY Times article I read a quote that states, “Training a little bit beyond your capabilities is the only way to get better…”.

For now, I want to comment on that one statement. As an overarching theory, I agree, but what I don’t agree with is what the article and that statement implies. Most running coaches believe that more training is the only way to become a better runner. So what do they mean by better and what do they mean by training?

I’ll start with the question about training. When most people talk about training for running they are usually either talking about running more miles or doing some sort of strength training for their legs. So, when you “train a bit beyond your capabilities” it generally means you run farther or faster. I do agree that you need to train beyond your current capability to get better, but I think the focus should be on improving your running form and technique, not just running faster and farther. If you focus only on running faster and further, you are setting yourself up for injury.

If you focus on improving your running form, you are setting yourself up to run faster and/or longer distances with greater proficiency and efficiency.

This brings up the question of what it actually means to be “better.” In most cases I think most people define “better” as becoming faster, which is somewhat of a limited vision of improving your sport.

The ChiRunning approach takes on a much more holistic view. Getting better means running more efficiently so that you can run with less perceived effort no matter what speed or distance you run. It means working on your running technique so you can run injury-free and there’s no down side to your running. It means not working so hard that you have to recover after every run. It means finding long-lasting joy in your running so your relationship with it doesn’t fade with the years. And, it can mean, if you so desire, to use running as an internal practice to improve your mind and body as well as your spirit.

So, the next time you think of “training” to “get better” with your running take the time to include the whole picture or you could be missing out on something much more valuable than speed and distance.



  • injury-free running,
  • running technique,
  • training,
  • running form,
  • running efficiency,
  • running performance

10 CommentsLeave a comment below

Hi, my name is Rick Cleary.  I’m a running coach from River Falls, WI.  I’ve developed a new product that tracks your stride rate every workout and automatically tracks your shoe wear too.  I use ChiRunning with my team and find that the Shoe Odometer is a perfect complement. Personally, I’ve gone from 169 strides per minute (spm) to 178 spm.  At 46 years old I’m running every day without being injured.


You have defined training in a beautiful style to link it with a higher objective of attaining one-ness with self i.e., the Body, the Mind and the Soul. I’m sure every long distance runner has experienced this one time or another.

During my schooling days, my teacher advised me to work smarter rather than harder by brute force. Chirunning technique is indeed one of the skills to run “longer distances with greater proficiency and efficiency”.

Listening to oneself through self-observation was well taught by Lord Buddha through a non-sectarian technique called “Vipassana” (


Ramnik Shah

I just ran the Beijing International Marathon yesterday, finishing in a time of 5hrs 11mins.Disppointed as I set my target of 4.5hrs to 5hrs.This is my 3rd year participated in this ran. HOwever, I have improved from 5hrs 40mins in 2006 to 5hrs 18min last year.
Reading your article above, that was exactly what I had in mind,ie to train more and harder. I know that I need to improve my forms as well, which I was not able to sustain during the whole time yesterday. I would like your advise as to how to maintain the forms while runnning the whole marathon. Obviously I would not be able maintain the pace of 180 steps per minute for the whole marathon. How do I train for such stamina, apart from practicing harder? I am also using the cross trainer machine - the step and push.
I do not have much opportunity to ran outside.
looking forward to hear from you Danny

This is such a great Blog because it addresses an element of running that is so often neglected - technique.

Just like in swimming, technique is what differentiates the running masses, and the runners that seem to be effortless and always comfortable.

The key to becoming one of the effortless is practice.

The old saying, “Practice makes perfect” is no longer valid because only PERFECT practice makes perfect.

I am a convert of perhaps a year of running Chi - I pretty much run a whole marathon without loosing form.  I am 6ft 2in tall and have size 13 shoe.  I weigh 180 so I am by no mean overweight, but here is the kicker - I end up with Plantar F. due to the lever of my mid strike foot fall as my long foot puts excessive stress on my PF.  I’m moving into a New Bal 1100 series shoe and getting a orthotic, but what do I need to do in my striding to prevent this dilemma

Did my second marathon of the year in Boise a few weeks ago. I’ll be 65 next week and easily won my age with a respectable 4:34 time. And I owe it all to Chi Running. I enjoy it more, bounce back much quicker. I sometime repeat a simple form-reminding mantra like “ankles” “ankles” to remind me to lean. ‘Do a different aspect of form during each run. It’s getting increasingly natural and literally has changed my 33 yr running “career.” I’m retiring in January and plan to do at least 6 injury-free marathons next year. Thanks again, Danny!

Cindy Bartelt Oct 21st, 2008 05:34am

I am concerned about my sisters daily running, 7 days a week. My sister runs 4 miles a day for her exercise along with a 45 minutes arobic exercise. She doesn’t do any strength training. She is 42 years old and extremely thin; 5ft 2inches and 90 pounds. She has daily aches and pains in her feet, and must were her walking shoes every minutes of the day. I’m afraid the running may be hurting her feet. She has a very narrow, flat foot, but does wear an arch support. I will be giving her the information on this web site that can maybe help her. Any specific sugestions would be appreciated.

Ben R. Bautista Nov 7th, 2008 08:05am

When are you going to have a workshop in the Chicago area?

Dear Danny,
I have read your book , in Spanish, and there you wrote that one of your targets is to achieve your ultramarathons without running more than 56 km per week. Is that right or is a translation mistake?


That is not a translation mistake. As I was working on developing the Chi Running Technique, I would not allow myself to run more than 30-35 miles per week (50-56km). This would force me to run long distance by depending more on my technique than my strength getting me to the finish line. I’m currently training for the Air Force Marathon which is next week and my longest run has been 21km. I hope to qualify for Boston with a sub 4-hour marathon, which should be no problem. Efficient running technique can in most cases replace many miles of strength training.


For me training means so much to a player. Especially to a runner…it’s a workout, and it’s important to be putting yourself in proper condition before a race. However, in training, you need to be extra careful to avoid injury…what is the use of training if you can’t be in the game…:(

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