Learning to let go

Learning to let go

Heck, writing this blog has just stopped me in my tracks, ‘what does Chi Running mean to me? how has it influenced my life?’ was the topic I wanted to share. And for a second I thought I’d write ‘my 10k time PB is 10 minutes faster, my 5k time is 3 minutes faster, my half marathon time is down by 12 minutes’, but actually it is so much more. I’ve let ‘it’, the journey of Chi Running, develop over time, unlike most other things in my life which I tend to rush and want now, I kind of knew in the depths of my mind, the body and mind don’t change overnight, when finding Chi Running during my midst of injury I felt confident that this will be a journey, an interesting self-analysis.

I have been practicing Chi Running since I attended Jon Burdon’s workshop in 2014 and I have been teaching since the summer of 2016. Originally my practice was linked to my year of injury, shin splints and tight calves forcing me to walk on my toes, I knew my body needed to learn new habits, I knew running wasn’t painful, I knew I didn’t need new trainers. There was something screaming at me to listen, from the inside. It took, with my patience, some mental adjustments. To stop, to reassess, to allow myself to run only half a mile then three-quarters, to make a mental note of how my body felt (and forget about what was happening at work or my weekend plans), to truly pay attention to me.

You can do yoga too, engage your core, align from the crown of your head, use the forces of gravity but if your mind is not self-accepting, throwing you digs throughout the day, throughout your run, your energy will not flow.

I race competitively and my life is surrounded by running – books, social posts, a large group of friends, a race calendar, a training calendar, dinners, Park

I race competitively and my life is surrounded by running – books, social posts, a large group of friends, a race calendar, a training calendar, dinners, Park Run and coffee – the injury allowed me to justify dipping out of the running, I felt less guilty and other runners understood. But now I wish I had made the conscious effort to practice Chi Running before the injury took hold because I knew deep down my body could be more efficient – I knew after longer runs I didn’t need to wake up the next day unable to walk. All the lovely new clients I meet now who tell me this is the sole reason they are attending my workshops – to concentrate on me – just fills me with pride. Because social pressure can be tough, and our own self-pressure can be harsher. To explain to other runners that I was training to be a Chi Running instructor received some blank looks, the occasional smirk or dismiss, lots of explanation and also much appreciated support. For some of these reasons I kept it on the low, I wanted to ‘be the change’ and not force other runners to look at their technique. I am so passionate about looking after your body, inside and out, and so my journey continued…

By no means have I ‘nailed’ Chi Running, it really is a lifelong journey, and why would we ever want the ‘me time’ to end. I have, hand on heart, embedded the practice into every run I complete, I love having my mindful hints and tips stashed in my back pocket. Not all of my runs feel amazing, what I am learning now is my body has adapted and is slowly learning and it is changing how it moves me around life, but my mind is what holds me back.

What Chi Running has helped me to see, is how the mind and body can work together, we take it for granted but actually, our mind is telling us stories, stories which are not true, and our body responds to this.

I saw Chi Running as a physical technique, something quite tangible that you would see results from on your Garmin. So that was true, my performance has improved, my body recovers quicker. But what I didn’t expect was how it would lead me to learn so much more about myself. You can do yoga too, engage your core, align from the crown of your head, use the forces of gravity but if your mind is not self-accepting, throwing you digs throughout the day, throughout your run, your energy will not flow. Instead, you will create a blocker, mentally and physically. What Chi Running has helped me to see, is how the mind and body can work together, we take it for granted but actually, our mind is telling us stories, stories which are not true, and our body responds to this. Body sensing and gradual progression in a holistic sense – like every day, in everything we do – being kind to ourselves, internally, nutritionally, externally with rest and recovery, moving our bodies an inch at a time – this really generates a slow long-term lasting change within us. A positive calm mind, a positive relaxed aligned body. Inclusively strong.

So my Chi Running journey has begun, but only just, I’m going to continue to adapt my body, gently and generously, enjoying that freedom from the inside out, and being kind to myself, body sensing from head to toe, being positive and letting that energy flow; all of this gradually while working towards my running goals. I’d say Chi Running has allowed me to ‘be the change’ – learning to let go, mind and body, working simultaneously.


Kelly Knight

Kelly Knight

Kelly teaches Chi Running in the Midlands. For more details and to check out her upcoming workshops and guided trail runs click here to visit Kelly’s profile page.

A deeper and more connected life

A deeper and more connected life

Mindfulness is a word that is batted around in every other magazine article nowadays but it’s really very simple, and you’re probably doing it anyway.

What do I love most about Chi Running? I think it’s that it is a holistic practice – so much more than just a running technique. The skill of stopping yourself in your tracks and resetting your alignment becomes something you do all day, every day. And what’s more this is not just a physical thing but a mental, emotional, even spiritual practice too.

Mindfulness is a word that is batted around in every other magazine article nowadays but it’s really very simple, and you’re probably doing it anyway. Focussing your mind on just one part of your body, or on your breath, or on the ground beneath you are all great ways to become a connected, more relaxed runner. Learning to simplify our thoughts and focus on one element of our movement is a great way to reduce stress.

If you have been working on your Chi Running technique for some time or just a few days I’d encourage you to explore the body sensing skills that are discussed in the Chi Running book. Make a body scan part of your daily routine. Scan your body from head to toe and get a sense for what it is telling you. I’d suggest including your feelings and emotions within this scan as well – they can tell you a lot about how your run is going to go! The Chi Walking book is also a fabulous starting point for this journey, full of exercises to help you connect mind and body.

If you have worked with an instructor they have no doubt given you some ‘form focusses’ to work on. Use a form intervals approach to work on these. To run form intervals, you focus your mind entirely on the one small aspect of your form for an interval of about one minute. After that you give yourself a break mentally before coming back for another repetition. This is a great way to build on the physical components of Chi Running and start to work more on the mental aspects. Be non judgemental and just observe yourself. If your focus wanders, just make a note that has happened and then allow your mental focus to return to the chosen focus.

Yes, Chi Running can help make you a better runner. Yes, Chi Running can help prevent injury, but if the physical component is all you get from it I personally think you’re missing out. What do I love most about Chi Running? It can lead you to a deeper and more connected life – all day and every day.

Jon Burdon

Jon Burdon

Jon is a qualified teacher who has been exploring and sharing the great outdoors with others for over 20 years. He has a holistic philosophy and believes a relaxed, natural technique, together with a mind-body approach to running can enhance your whole life. He is proud to present a very special Mindful Fitness Day, Saturday 24 June (with an optional trail run on the Sunday) in the beautiful Holme Valley. Here the teaching of Chi Running is blended with that of mindfulness and yoga.

Area: Huddersfield and West Yorkshire, Peak District, Snowdonia, Lake District, Manchester, Shropshire.