So Simple, So Effective - Chi Running

So Simple, So Effective

Posted by Gary S. Reckard on Tue Oct 15th, 2013, 5 comments

So Simple, So Effective

From Casey Colahan, ChiLiving staff member and Certified Instructor

I recently took several weeks off from running and am just getting back into a routine. Those first few runs after a hiatus aren’t fun, but I had an amazing experience on my last run that I have to share.

My goal was to run a slow and steady three miles. About 20 minutes in, I started getting tired and could feel my posture collapsing. I was bending at the waist, and my lower back was very unhappy.

I ran through all the posture Focuses in my mind, but my body just wasn’t getting it. Instead of focusing on what my body was doing, I decided to project my focus externally to what was around me. I decided to use Y’chi.

I focused on a tree that was about 300 feet ahead of me. I wasn’t thinking about anything else, and I wouldn’t let myself look at anything but that tree. I imagined I was attached to the tree by an invisible string, and that string was pulling me toward it. With every inhale, I gathered up my energy, and with every exhale, I directed that energy toward the tree. As I got closer, I felt the crown of my head lift and my spine straighten. My posture fell into place without me even trying.

I leaned more and kept my gaze on the tree until I got to it. My legs relaxed, my back found its happy place again, and my whole body felt lighter, so I kept picking something new to focus on until I finished. I ran another whole mile, and I didn’t even notice that my pace for the last mile was 30 seconds faster than the rest of my run. Talk about effortless! It was truly THE most amazing experience I’ve had with ChiRunning to date. I was blown away.

Most of the Chi Form Focuses are about focusing on your body and your internal flow of energy – footstrike, arm swing, cadence, posture, etc. It can be challenging to get all those Focuses to work together, especially if you’re fatigued. Focusing on something outside of your own body and giving yourself one goal (“Just get to that tree/light post/spot on the horizon!”) can quiet your mind and allow your body to find the best way to move on its own.

It’s hard to explain how Y’chi can turn a grueling workout into a great one, so give it a try on your next walk or run. It might sound too simple to be meaningful, but you’ll quickly see (and feel) how surprisingly effective it can be.

Transform your workouts with Y’chi:

For running: ChiRunning book & DVD
For walking: ChiWalking book & DVD


  • running technique,
  • chirunning,
  • trail running,
  • running form

5 CommentsLeave a comment below

Steven Holgate Oct 16th, 2013 09:17pm

There is something about being able to sense progress and see the “FINISH.”  Even it is only to find a new finish.  Thanks for sharing, Casey!

DR. BRIAN DAVIS Oct 17th, 2013 05:57pm

I’m going to try your tip on Sunday. I’m running a 1/2 marathon and was excited to read about your Y’chi moment. You are right, it is hard to focus on all the forms especially in the last segment of the race or run when fatigue sets in. I’ll be thinking of your blog and your comments when that moment comes on Sunday. I hope to report that it worked for me also.

Thanks for sharing, Brian (Nova Scotia, Canada)

Joe Gallagher Oct 20th, 2013 01:47pm

Im running the Dublin City Marathon on tomorrow week. I have been practising Chi Running as Ive trained. I will try your idea and report back!!! Thank you!

Dr Brian Davis Oct 22nd, 2013 04:27pm

Hi Casey,

I took your advice and it worked like a charm. I did a personal best (1:53)and won my age class (65-69)in the 1/2 marathon I ran on Sunday.

Thanks for helping this old timer, Brian

Casey Colahan Oct 29th, 2013 01:03pm

Hi Brian,

Glad to hear it worked for you! It’s a pretty cool focus…I also use it on difficult hills to “pull me to the top.” Congrats on your personal best, too smile

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!