Friday, July 23, 2010

ChiRunning workshop in Seattle - towards effortless, injury-free running...with a side order of sheer joy!

Ultra-marathoner and master of ChiRunning, Danny Dreyer, with instructors Angela, and Donna - spreading the joy of running, "Chi-fully"!

Those warm and enthusiastic smiles in the image above tell the whole story...but I'll share a little additional background anyway. It's a good story!

A couple of years ago, on a rainy, Island day, we were browsing books in Chapters in Nanaimo. While Joan's admittedly broader interests take her to a number of different locations in the store, I usually head to my favourite back-to-back shelves. On one side are books that recount experiences of epic outdoor adventures and survival, in the mountains or on the ocean. On the other side of the book shelf are rows of books on miscellaneous activities and sports...including running. Over the years, I have collected and enjoyed a large number of books on the subject of running, always searching out new perspectives and training tips and always hoping that the secret would one day be revealed that would improve and enhance my modest abilities.

On that particular day, one book called out, with unmistakable eagerness. It had the intriguing title, ChiRunning, by Danny and Katherine Dreyer. It was the subtitle, however, that caused my heart rate to accelerate with excitement and growing anticipation: A revolutionary approach to effortless, injury-free running. "Effortless, injury-free running"? OK, that just about sums up what I've been looking for! Quickly perusing the table of contents, I remember thinking, "This may be it." It was.

Lots of books make promises to the reader but this is one that will fulfil your expectations. After more than thirty years of enjoying running, but also experiencing injury after tedious injury, the purchase of ChiRunning on that rainy day was the beginning of a most extraordinary adventure. Since then, Joan and I have participated in three workshops - all were thoroughly enjoyable, rewarding, and most assuredly, helpful. What is even cooler is that the ChiRunning technique is consistent with barefoot / minimalist running technique - the way, increasing numbers are discovering, that we human beings were built to run. Christopher McDougall's book, Born to Run, is an absolute jaw-dropping and convincing read on this subject. (You can check out his blog, listed on the side bar, or click here.)

The open-to-new-approaches student who is patient and willing to allow careful "gradual progress" will find that the ChiRunning form offers a running technique that will preclude the vast majority of the all-too-common injuries. For the two of us, it has led to a whole new understanding of how the body was created to move...and run, lightly and quietly. More than anything else, however, ChiRunning has made possible significantly more joyful, mindful, and (increasingly) effortless running...and virtually injury free. Hard to understand how that alone would not be irresistible to runners!

This past week, we went down to Seattle to take in the Level 2 workshop, led by Danny - an inspiring teacher, author, running instructor, and nationally ranked ultra-marathoner. He exudes energy and joy but the overwhelming sense you have is of a man at peace with himself and with the universe. Like another one of our favourite running people with whom we have been fortunate to spend some time, Barefoot Ted McDonald, Danny runs ultra-marathon distances, and has run the Leadville Trail 100 - a hundred miles of difficult, rough, high-elevation trails in Colorado. Yup, it's one of the most gruelling. When folks have done that, you "listen up" to what they have to say. "Chi" is all about energy and Danny and his incredibly impressive team of instructors have it in abundance. More than that though, each and every one of his staff shares a special warmth and a tangible joie de vivre. Folks like that are energizing - and that experience is priceless in itself.

The smiles in the pic at the top of this posting tell the story.


PS Barefoot Ted's Luna Huarache Running Sandals arrived today - yes! Now I just have to figure out how to tie the laces. Watch this space for news on the "inaugural" run". :-)


  1. Duncan and Joan - sounds like you are having a wonderful time! Hope you will teach some of your new tips to Cathie and Linda before their run - we need them back safely and injury free :>)
    - Sheila

  2. Attending workshops and reading books that inspire always seem to give new energy to life! Great that the sandals have arrived, I can hardly wait to see them.
    Reading this makes me think it would be easier to run the 56 km instead of walk. LOL

  3. Hi Sheila and L,

    Ted's sandals are an experience - like putting a "timeless machine" on each foot. Almost mystical. Nothing to them really. Haven't tried running in them yet. Tomorrow. It was strange when we did the GLW in '08. Walking made us stiffen up and we ran much of the last half with walking breaks. It felt easier. You'll get home safely...and with bit grins! It's an awesome event!

  4. So what do you DO at these workshops?? Listen or run? Or listen and then run? Interesting post, Duncan.

  5. Hi Jill,

    Good question. It's listen 'n run...the better you listen, the better you run. A bit like life, come to think about it. Bet you're glad to be back at the cottage after the traffic of Stampede week! Bet Bernie and the fridge were glad to see you too!

  6. Hello:

    I do love to read your blog and follow you both on your journey, even though my limbs and bones no longer allow me to indulge. One would never believe how athletic I was growing up. I am pleased that L is following in your footsteps with the walking and running and her keen interest. To be young again!!!! However, right now I am far toooo busy to even think about exercising. I know, "It's not what I do, but it's what makes everything else I do okay". You taught me that and I have not forgotten it. Keep trekking my friend.

  7. Gosh...I love reading your words...they resonate so deeply with my inner beliefs..would you mind if I used some of your words in my newsletters? of course naming you as the author. I will keep you posted on my next workshops...and hope to see you when I do my "talk" at the Victoria marathon expo!!
    ChiFULLY yours....Donna

  8. Of course, Donna, glad to share anytime. Please do keep us posted on your events and stay in touch.