Friday 13 December 2019

Stay in step with the art of ChiRunning

The next generation: Catherina took her daughter Deirbhile to the finish in line of the London Marathon, 16 years after Catherina's triumph at that event.
The next generation: Catherina took her daughter Deirbhile to the finish in line of the London Marathon, 16 years after Catherina's triumph at that event.

Catherina McKiernan

My mother always says as you get older, time goes by quicker, and this is a very true statement. For instance, I can hardly believe that I've been teaching ChiRunning for 10 years now. The reason I got interested in ChiRunning in the first place was because I got some injuries during my career and I wanted to learn to run in a more efficient manner.

When I was competing against the Kenyans and Ethiopians, I admired their gracefulness and ease in running. As we all know running can become very addictive and when we are not able to run due to injuries, it can be frustrating. Running gives me a great feeling of confidence and well-being and it's something I want to continue with until I get very old.

The founder of ChiRunning is an American by the name of Danny Dreyer. I studied and trained with him 10 years ago and I try to meet up with him every couple of years to polish up on my teaching skills and see if there is anything new to learn.

Last weekend, Danny was conducting workshops in London and my daughter Deirbhile and I went over to join him. We travelled over on Friday and spent the afternoon visiting the sites around London. It was nice to bring Deirbhile to the finish line of the London Marathon, 16 years after I won it. Deirbhile doesn't get too excited about anything but I could sense she was quietly proud of my achievement.

After walking many miles around London on Friday, it was down to business on Saturday. It was terrific to spend the day with Danny and go through all the ChiRunning form focuses.


1 Good posture is the cornerstone of good running form. If you run with incorrect posture, it is going to cause fatigue, discomfort and eventually pain.

2 Learning to co-operate with the pull of gravity by tilting your whole body forward as a unit from your ankles. This takes an immense amount of pressure off your legs.

3 Landing mid-foot to take all the impact away from your lower legs and knees. This is the biggest mistake most people make while running and it causes running-related injuries like calf-strains, shinsplints and Achilles tendonitis.

4 Practising to keep your muscles relaxed and your joints loose and open. We all hold too much tension while we are running and this results in muscles becoming tired and sore. When your muscles are loose and relaxed the oxygen carried by your blood can enter the muscle cells much more easily than if they are tense.

5 ChiRunning not only heals and prevents injuries, but promotes greater speed and distance with much less effort. With the ChiRunning technique, you are working towards effortless running.

As your form improves, you will be able to run with less effort. Most people think that the African athletes are naturally efficient runners but they spend a lot of time practising drills to improve their running technique.

When I started to learn about ChiRunning I spent a lot of time practising the drills. Your body learns best from repetition, so I knew I needed to be consistent and persistent and the more often I practised, the quicker my body would get used to them. When I run now I focus on moving in an efficient, fluent and relaxed manner.

Danny is now 64 years of age and he runs with grace and ease. Hopefully, I will be able to move as fluent as him when I am his age.

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