Sprinting - Chi Running


Posted by Danny Dreyer on Wed Jan 9th, 2008, 4 comments


ChiRunning can be adapted to sprinting very easily, but first you need to learn the technique at slower speeds and then integrate the focuses into your faster running over time. If you start learning the ChiRunning technique and begin to do too much speed before truly learning the technique you could end up with some sort of hybrid version of your old form and the ChiRunning form. It’s best to learn the ChiRunning technique on your base building runs to keep your learning pure. If you read the book and/or follow the instructional DVD to learn to run, you’ll notice that not much attention is put onto short distance speedwork. This is because sprinters make up such a small subgroup of runners, that there was little need for the information. The ChiRunning technique is geared toward long distance running. Because if this, you’ll have to do some adjustments for faster running that are not in the book. With sprinting, there is much more emphasis on use of the upper body (arm swing and lean) during running. Any time you are running faster than is normally required from most human beings, there is a need for more muscle usage, which is opposite to all you’ll read about in the book. But if you can learn to make your running highly efficient at all times, then when you need to run at sprinting speeds you’ll become a very efficient short distance runner…which equates to speed.

Sprinting, as with running hills, involves an increase in upper body work so that the legs don’t have to carry the total load of running at higher speeds. Your arms should be swinging forward…not to the rear as with the slower paces. Your hands should swing upwards as you lean forward. At sprinting speeds it is most important to be even more relaxed in order for your body to function as a total unit. I suggest also working on strengthening your core muscles, especially your abs. This will allow you to hold your upper body more forward as you take off. If you watch high level sprinters take off, they keep their heads down as long as possible in order to maintain their increased lean for a longer period. You should practice imagining your body as a balloon that is expanding in all directions as you take off…your legs are straightening to the rear as your arms are reaching forward. This creates a balance in your movement. Learn to drive with your pelvis, not your legs and you’ll be able to sustain a higher rate of speed for a longer period of time. This will engage your obliques and all of your core muscles to power the motion of your legs, instead of just using your quads to do the job.

Cheers – Danny



  • running technique,
  • running,
  • chirunning,
  • running hills,
  • running form,
  • sprinting,
  • hills,
  • cats on a treadmill

4 CommentsLeave a comment below

Thanks Danny for clarifying this point. I have noticed from my own practice as well as from other research that muscles need to be really used for high speeds.

Maybe this could be a chapter in your 2nd edition of the book.

One of these days I will take you Trail Running in Los Angeles in Palos Verdes.

You’d love it.

Happy New Years

This is useful.Presumably you would also increase the cadence?

Mac McClelland May 4th, 2010 12:00pm

Yes, what about increasing the cadence? It seems natural when I’ve worked on sprinting.

Hi Mac,
There are exceptions to every rule and sprinting is one exception to the Chi Running rule that says your cadence should always remain constant. When sprinting, your cadence should increase slightly, which is ok because most sprint races are very short anaerobic runs.


Bob Kortmann Jan 6th, 2016 06:50pm

I coach high school T&F. I have found elements of Chi Running Technique to be very applicable to the “long sprints” like the 400m, and especially the 300-400 hurdles.  Sure, the technique needs to be mastered at a “conversation pace”- like all kinesiology movement it needs to get into the “procedural memory” (like riding a bicycle).  Once learned, it permits one to sustain a “long sprint” more relaxed, using the larger upper leg muscle groups, engaging the core, etc.  It uses gravity to pull you forward (fast and relaxed) rather than only relying on pushing yourself at speed using the lower leg muscle groups ( and accumulating more carbonic acid ).  Long hurdlers benefit greatly by “leaning their column and lifting their heals”!  Not as applicable to the “britches on fire short sprint” like a 55m or even 100m.  But very applicable to any race further than that.  (Injury reduction is also a huge plus).

What are your thoughts?

Please enter the word you see in the image below:

Top 100 Runnning Blogs award

Over a million happy runners can't be wrong.

Watch our FREE video series and run easier and better than you ever imagined. Feel the difference in your next run!