Running: Going Back to Basics - Chi Running

Running: Going Back to Basics

Posted by Michelle Muldoon on Mon Sep 26th, 2011, 4 comments

Poor mechanics and foot function have in the past meant that running was not something I seemed born to do.  Fortunately, through practising the Chi Running technique this turned out not to be the case.  However, I have always had an issue with my right foot and back in April, I hurt it while out for a very long walk. I should have taken a few days off but I didn’t listen to my body.  I continued running on it and hoped the problem would just go away.  It didn’t!  It got worse and so I was forced to take a layoff.  Fast forward to the summer holidays and a lack of routine and running took a back seat for a bit.

So September has arrived, and the start of a new academic year. With some loss in fitness, it seemed a good time to go back to school myself. So for the last couple of weeks, I have been doing what I tell my students to do, form intervals.  These allow you to focus on particular aspects of your form for one minute. You can alternate between focusing and not focusing, one minute on, one minute off.  I am not currently training for anything and to focus purely on form and not on either distance or speed seems appropriate right now.

The main difference in how I am approaching form intervals is that I do most of the intervals barefoot.  My feet have never liked being in shoes, I have always enjoyed being barefoot since childhood.  Unfortunately, I have spent most of my life in shoes though, and until a few years ago really uncomfortable shoes!  Whilst the shoes companies are busy responding to the desire for more minimalist footwear, and there are countless models out there to choose from; many still fall short in providing shoes with a wide toe box.

If you’ve been reading my blogs you will know that I took a very gradual route to less of a running shoe and now seems like the time to experiment a little without them.  This is not something I would attempt without applying the Chi Running technique's principles or indeed the many running focuses that help to keep my running technique in check.  Feeling the ground allows me to really sense that I land with a midfoot strike and that I must at all costs relax my feet and legs, otherwise it’s going to hurt. It also gives me the opportunity to strengthen my feet and bring my long time damaged foot back to life.  As always, gradual progress is key.

Happy running.


  • barefoot,
  • running form,
  • form intervals

4 CommentsLeave a comment below

Hi Michelle, I try/buy minimalist running shoes all the time, and my favourites are still the NB Miniumus Trail. They have a snug heel and a very wide, foot-shaped toe box. Imagine that: foot-shaped shoes!

I’ve also gradually learned to run without any shoes over the last couple of years. Running barefoot safely is impossible without good form so barefoot and chi running go hand in hand.

Michelle Muldoon Sep 26th, 2011 05:07pm

Hi Neil, I’ve not actually tried the Minimus Trail yet.  I will be US bound soon so will be looking at some others too not available in the UK.  Keep up the good work!

Hi Michelle,
I’m going through exactly what you’ve written. Injured my right foot by not following the law of gradual progression - increased my weekly distance too fast, and thought I could run off the pain. Am now going back to basics, even right down to starting with Chiwalking first to recheck form & alignment. I also realised that I hold too much tension in my right foot which likely caused the pain (just like what you wrote). I’m constantly reminding myself that Chirunning is a practice and a process. I’m back to learning the basics of mindful practice and not let my ego take over which what happens when I get too focused on training for an event.

Michelle Muldoon Oct 17th, 2011 01:29pm

Hi Celestine, It’s so easy to let the ego take over.  As frustrating as it has been, in a way this injury has been a blessing and allowed me to explore more and continue to improve my form.  I have no doubt this setback will do the same for you.

What are your thoughts?

Please enter the word you see in the image below:

Top 100 Runnning Blogs award