Running With a Quiet Mind - Chi Running

Running With a Quiet Mind

Posted by Laura Houston on Fri Jun 24th, 2011, 7 comments

I was going to title this blog post "Running Stops the Voices in My Head," but I thought that might scare some readers off. In fact, running does quiet my mind, if I allow it. One of the aims of the pain-free Chi Running technique (and Chi Walking) is to change running from a ‘fitness’ sport to a more mindful practice, much like yoga or Pilates or t’ai chi. Every time you go running, it’s a chance to work on improving your running practice, which includes listening to your body.

Most of us carry the narratives of our day-to-day life into everything we do, including our running. When you are running, as the conversation continues, tension can arise, especially in areas where you tend to hold it, such as your shoulder or back. When you are trying to practice efficient movement, that tension can get in the way. When I’m running, sometimes the inner conversation gets loud enough to make me think there is a party going on in my head! When this happens, it’s hard to hear what my body is trying to tell me. It’s time to quiet down, and this is where one of the Chi Running principles comes in handy - using your y’chi.

In Chi Running, we talk about using your y'chi (see page 44 of the Chi Running book) by focusing on an inanimate object in the distance (tree, stop sign, etc.) and directing your energy through your eyes. Think of a cat stalking a bird - the cat doesn't break its visual link to its prey - you could say the cat is using its y'chi.  Practicing using your y'chi allows your mind to become quiet and listen to your body better, so that you can 'hear' signals and respond, such as keeping the core engaged, the spine long, and the back of the neck soft. It can also let you know where you might be holding tension. At some point, you will lose that focus. All you have to do is come back to it - it’s always there. By coming back to it and quieting your mind, your run becomes more like a meditation session, and most likely will leave you refreshed. It does for me!

So next time you go running, notice if there is inner chatter going on. Then lock your eyes on to something in the distance, and hear the conversations cease as the tension melts away. Your body will thank you!


  • running as a practice,
  • focuses,
  • y'chi

7 CommentsLeave a comment below

So true. I made the mistake today of trying to listen to an audiobook during my run (because I was really into the book and wanted to finish). It was SO hard to focus, and I ended up with a sore hamstring and a sore back. Won’t do that again.

Tina Hamilton Jun 25th, 2011 12:42am

This is exactly what I do!  I’m also a meditator, so running is my meditation in motion, then I go home and do my sitting meditation (sometimes it’ reversed, sitting meditation, then running), either way, it’s wonderful!

my husband mentioned that when he runs, he does an inventory of his body, starting at his feet, to un-tense any part that has tensed up - this along with the focusing on a point farther out, really helps in moving the mind from the day-to-day issues, back to the running and quiets things down.

Rebecca L. Ramsay Jul 11th, 2011 03:11pm

While running, it seems possible to have a fuller, more enjoyable experience by listening to the surrounding sounds.  Birds conversing or people playing remind me how pleasant it is to be outside in the fresh air, and any kind of thinking becomes worry-free.

Running is the way to soothe my mind. After a bad day at work or if something is bothering me, it brings a sense of peace to appreciate the scenery and sounds, with the rhythm of my breathing. I find it hard to concentrate on anything at all except the path ahead.

I’d like to post some tips for meditation when you cant shut the mind off.

1. Come back to it just stop meditating
2. Do not become distracted sometimes all it takes is time for the mind to quiet
3. Extend the breathing and let it become rhythmic this help in slowly calming us down

4. Do no meditate if there are a lot of distractions that cause anxiety in you around
5. Sometimes its nice to focus on a sound or a play a soft song in the background to help us focus

Laura Houston Oct 10th, 2011 11:05pm

Thanks Devyn! Great reminders!

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Just wanted to say that after reading Chi Running and trying it for a week, I felt like it finally "clicked", and I cannot even remember how to run the old way (which I did faithfully for over 20 years). 

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