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Running, Walking and Living on the Brake?

A primary ChiRunning and ChiWalking concept is to move forward with momentum while minimizing resistance. In both running and in life, efficiency and longevity comes from gradual forward progress with your foot subtly on the gas pedal with limited use of the brake.

If you press on the gas too much, you will likely need to use the brakes more. If you don’t trust mentally, you will likely use the brake. Or some of us just ride the brake all the time not realizing that our actions are slowing us down. In my seminars I often ask the question “Who steps on the gas and on the brake at the same time when they drive a car?”

The answer is obvious. My next question is “Why should your vehicle be treated any differently?” Any vehicle that is driven “hard”, or spends a lot of time in the shop or ingests … poor fuel, is affecting its efficiency and its longevity. The difference between a vehicle and your vehicle is you only get one vehicle.

Here are just a few examples of excess effort and excess braking in both running/walking and in life:


  • Pushing, reaching, pulling – and then overstriding.
  • Pushing, reaching, pulling – and creating resistance due to effort (*)
  • Leaning too much (ChiRunning) – and then resisting with an overstride or by tensing the feet.
  • Pushing beyond your fitness level – and then tensing or losing form and/or creating a long recovery time.

(* This is similar to the “muscle” car that slows to a stop if you take your foot off the gas. The inherent power in the engine is also a brake.)


  • “Weekend Warrior”, trying to get in all your fitness on one day – and then needing to take the rest of the week off.
  • “Fitness to Eat” (example), getting your fitness in – and then eating and drinking things that un-do your fitness program and leave you with less overall benefit. This includes any food or drink that you know is not clearly supporting your fitness/health goals.
  • “Work hard, play hard”, taking short cuts in maintaining balanced health – and then getting sick.
  • “Overextended”, taking a very big step towards your goal without balance – and then having trouble maintaining forward progress.
  • “Mental Apprehension”, having a goal – and then hesitating or procrastinating.

In both cases, we can ignore or mask our body senses – often with medication or stimulating food/drink – but the effect of the stop and go is still present. Eventually the additive effects of our repetitive actions will likely result in something much, much harder to address than any one individual action we take. Would it not be easier to just make the choice to brake a little less? That depends on your perspective. Is it focused on short term pleasure or does it consider something longer term?

Question: In what scenarios do you step on the brake in life? A brake is anything that results in resistance, slows you down, makes you feel heavy, de-energizes you, etc.

These scenarios are likely ones that either physically or mentally:

  • Take you out of alignment
  • Originate from outside your center or “core”, including your values
  • Knock you off balance
  • Ask you to act from weakness and not strength
  • Go against the principles or forces of nature

Question: What if you could ease off your brake(s) just a little? A good way to consider opportunities for this is to ask a simple question: Is what I am about to do clearly helping me towards my goals or will it slow down my progress? If it will help, go for it. If not, minimize?


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David Stretanski is a holistic health, fitness and wellness coach and Certified ChiRunning®/ChiWalking® Instructor. For more information on David, please see his About MeContact page or his website at

ChiRunning® and ChiWalking® are registered trademarks of ChiLiving, Inc.


Posted on Monday, May. 16th 2011 4:05 PM | by echifitness | in All, ChiRunning, ChiWalking, Fitness, Wellness | No Comments »

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