Danny Dreyer: How I invented Chi Running

Exclusive: How I connected my mind and body — and got both back on track

BY DANNY DREYER  — My long run is my favorite run of the week. It’s a time when I get to do some of my favorite things: slow down, take in the beauty of nature, socialize with friends, and just enjoy being alive.

I didn’t always feel that way about long runs, though. Even after years of training, my knees always hurt after 10 miles. My  wake-up call came in 1991, when I began running ultramarathons. The pain in my joints was unbearable.

I decided to find a way to make running less painful and more joyful. I’d been a student of T’ai Chi for over 20 years, so I started applying the T’ai Chi posture and concepts to my running. The first time I tried it on a five-mile run, I was amazed at how relaxed I felt.

The foundation of tai chi is correct posture, focus, and relaxation.  As I brought more awareness to my body during my workouts, my relationship with running completely changed.  I began to notice how this technique was preventing injuries, increasing my efficiency, and improving my performance. And I was surprised to discover that my new technique had benefits beyond the physical.

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I found that incorporating T’ai Chi in my running also presented the opportunity for spiritual exploration and the integration of body, mind and spirit. Being pain and injury-free is an amazing benefit in itself, but the uniquely beautiful thing about Chi Running is that it’s truly a practice – I’m never really finished. Each run is an opportunity to improve my mind/body connection, work on my technique, meditate, explore my thoughts, and learn more about myself.

Since its birth in 2001, Chi Running has helped hundreds of thousands of runners discover the endless benefits and possibilities running offers. Yes, the technique helps prevent injury, increases efficiency, and improves performance, but it can also satisfy you in ways you may never have suspected running could.

I enjoy every minute of being out running, and I know when I come back I’ll be in that great space that only a long run brings on: relaxed, pleasantly fatigued, peaceful--and with a deeply nourished soul.

 Danny Dreyer is an ultramarathoner who founded Chi Running, the running style that incorporates principles of T’ai Chi. He authored the book “ChiRunning: A Revolutionary Approach to Effortless, Injury-free Running.”

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