The quickest way to learn the midfoot strike…period! - Chi Running

The quickest way to learn the midfoot strike…period!

Posted by Danny Dreyer on Sun Jan 18th, 2009, 4 comments

Here’s something fun to do to spice up your winter running. I was out running today with my daughter (who was on roller blades) when I came upon a patch of ice on the side of the street that was about 30 feet long and just wide enough to run on. We’ve had a number of windy, single-digit days here in Asheville so the ice was a smooth, solid glassy surface on which to test my running form. As expected I ran across it without a hitch…no slipping or sliding in any direction. In fact if someone had been watching me from a distance, they might not have noticed that I was running on glare ice. The only way I was able to do this was to land with a midfoot strike and only use my feet for momentary support between strides. If I would have been trying to push myself forward with my feet, they would have slipped out from under me as I pushed off with my toes. Had I been landing with a heel strike, I’m sure I would have been running home with a bruised behind.

I’d never tried this before, but I knew it was entirely possible because a reader had written me an enthusiastic email about something that had happened to him on a winter run in Wisconsin.  It seems he had been out trying to keep his footing on some refrozen slush in the road, when he spotted a lake full of ice fishermen. The ice looked clear and smooth (and much more appealing than the crap he was trying to negotiate on the road) so he jumped the fence and headed out onto the ice. He had been practicing his ChiRunning focuses that morning and working on not pushing off with his legs, so the first thing he did when he got onto the ice was just pick up his feet and lean forward a little. To his great relief, he began to run across the frozen lake like it was a parking lot… accompanied by a very distinct feeling of what it means to run with a true midfoot strike. The only thing he had to do was pick up his feet as he fell forward. He told me that it was the biggest “aha!” moment of his life and from that day on, whenever he felt that he was overusing his legs, all he had to do was run as if he were running on an icy lake and all of his leg effort would instantly disappear.

I don’t know how many of you ever get the chance to run on ice in your street shoes, but I highly recommend it for learning how to not use your legs for propulsion when you run. If you live in a warm climate and have a local ice rink, you might try bribing the manager to let you give it a shot. When you do it right, it’s all gain and no pain.




  • injury-free running,
  • effortless running,
  • midfoot strike,
  • winter running,
  • knee pain

4 CommentsLeave a comment below

Rohan Nicholls Mar 2nd, 2009 11:58pm

Hi Danny,

I have just recently read the first half of your book and put the principles into practice, and the change has been immediate, with every run giving me more insight into the form, and the focuses.  Thanks so much for writing this book, and taking so much time and effort to put this system together, it has changed running for me and made it maintainable i.e. all pain in my knees is gone, my blisters are healing fast (they were deep and huge).  The mid-foot strike has proven itself in so many ways, but in relation to this post:

I was running early in the morning, and it was still dark (I live in a high northern latitude).  I was running along an unlit path, when I hit some ice.  My technique must have been pretty good, because I did not even pause but kept going and sailed over the ice (in the dark) without a hitch, and for the whole time I felt completely stable.  Before I learned chirunning I would have been picking gravel out of my leg and bum. smile  I hit ice a couple more times on the same run, also without warning, and the same thing happened (nothing).

Conway Running Club » Running on ice helps y Jan 7th, 2010 04:30am

[...] Specifically, Chi Running teaches landing on your mid-foot (as opposed to running on your toes or hitting your heel first) and running relaxed as opposed to pushing off on each stride.  Danny points out how running on ice can help you feel what a midfoot strike feels like and can teach you how to do it whenever you are running.  READ DANNY’S BLOG. [...]

Cold Weather Running Jan 20th, 2010 04:25pm

[...] foot strike?  Properly using your legs only for support, instead of propulsion?  As Danny Dreyer mentions over on his blog, a quick little experience on ice will show you where your weaknesses are.  Thankfully I did quite [...]

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS TIP< IT HAS CHANGED MY LIFE! I am a beginenr runner and yesterdya had first signs of itb, after much research only found your page and 1 video really helped with traiing self midfoot to get ri dof issues. now just came back from run and imagined running on ice, an di completed 3 sets of 7 min intervals, when earlier today could not because it hurt around knee.

any other tips are appreciated to make sure im doing your ice running right.


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