Running while Pedaling - Chi Running

Running while Pedaling

Posted by Laura Houston on Tue Nov 9th, 2010, 2 comments

Running with the Chi Running technique can be challenging to someone overcoming a lifetime of bad running habits. For those of us who have been practicing the Chi Running technique for a while, some of those habits can creep back in, especially when we are tired. A common error in running technique is over striding. It’s so common that we see it in the models in running magazines and posters, yet it has great potential for causing injuries to the knees and lower legs. A simple visualization can correct this, and allow one to feel a shorter, more efficient stride length. It also makes it easier to relax the lower legs, feel the ankle lift and let the feet form a circular motion to the rear.

This image is one that Danny used at Kripalu, and is also found on page 96 in the Chi Running book. It was interesting to see it help a student change her running technique in just a few minutes. She had been landing in front of her hips, with a locked knee and hard heel strike. In fact, it seemed like her legs were barely bending. She was over striding and working really hard for the amount of distance she was covering, which wasn’t much. Danny told her to imagine her feet were clipped into a bicycle pedal and she could only pull up. In addition, in first gear, that crank set would be on a tricycle wheel. Running along using this image, her knees got soft and started bending, and her feet started landing slightly behind her hips. Her stride length became short enough that she was able to relax her lower legs, and allow the heels to make a little circular motion and her feet to land with a midfoot strike, much like is shown in the book on page 97.

In my own running, I have come back to this visualization again and again, when I feel my feet start to creep out in front of my hips. In first gear, probably the most challenging gear to relax into, ironically, pedaling a tricycle wheel is sometimes the focus I need to find efficiency and relaxation. So next time you are running, try pedaling and feel what it feels like. It may be just what you need to get rolling down the road!



  • midfoot strike,
  • stride length,
  • heel strike

2 CommentsLeave a comment below

Tricycle pedals are way out in front (on the front wheel), so I can’t visualise how it would help. Do you mean unicycle?

Jeff Carnivale Oct 22nd, 2013 12:56pm

The story related here talks about how small the crank set is on a tricycle so that in first gear the ankle lift of the wheel will be small and easy. As for the imagery of the unicycle, that definitely works as you can visualize your self leaning forward on the unicycle and pedaling to match that lean, again with the wheel behind you.

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