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What it Takes to be a ChiRunning Instructor


So yeah, I have this title of “Certified ChiRunning Instructor #134407” on my business card, which may not mean a lot to you, but let me tell you a little bit about it:

As some of you may already know, I’m a Doctor of Physical Therapy who graduated from the University of Iowa in 2005. Before that, I studied Biomedical Engineering, with my main areas of interest in biomechanics and pre-medicine. Needless to say, I’ve had a lot of education involving how the human body moves. Combine this with my background in running since I was a state champion runner in high school, and you have a great formula to make an absolutely amazing running coach!!

Then, around 2010, I was at the Barnes and Noble at Lloyd Center in Portland and picked up a copy of Chi Running by Danny Dreyer. I had heard about it from another physical therapist on a forum on how to treat running injuries. What intrigued me is that the book went over HOW to run correctly, not just how to treat injuries that may come back if you don’t treat the cause. From that time, I’ve incorporated the ChiRunning Principles into my running and also my life.

Although the learning was frustrating and had its fair share of difficulties, I stayed with it. Before ChiRunning, I already had a natural ability to run faster and further than most anyone I knew, but my poor mechanics had caught up to me in the form of a hip injury and numerous other aches and pains.

In short, I had become efficient at running inefficiently, and I had to make a change in order to extend my longevity as a runner.

As I went through my learning process in ChiRunning, I knew that I’d get the most learning out of it if I tried to teach it. Being a physical therapist, I figured that this would be a cinch.

Yeah, I was wrong about that.

The ChiRunning and ChiWalking Instructor Training (CRCWIT) that I took in May 2015 involved vigorous study of the ChiRunning method, which involved a 4 day class in person with Danny Dreyer and other Master Instructors, pre-course work and quizzes, written and practical exams, and in-depth analysis of my own form. After the course, I then had to obtain at least 10 hours of pro-bono teaching, with documentation on what each runner’s challenges and focuses needed most attention.

Then came “The Video”: this was a recorded session with a student that was submitted to ChiRunning Headquarters in North Carolina. I recorded this on a chilly February morning in 2016, and finally had the video, along with feedback on my form from local ChiRunning Instructor Alice Difely submitted by the deadline a whole year later in May 2016. (Keep in mind I have two small children, so making this deadline was no small task for meJ)

When I got my Certificate for being a ChiRunning Instructor, I was so happy that I posted it in my treatment room at my clinic, New Heights Physical Therapy. It was no small task to go through the training—definitely not just a weekend “pay and show up” type of certificate. I had learned so much through the process, and I grow more and more each day in my practice of running because of it.

Now I’m at the stage of teaching ChiRunning, which brings me great satisfaction that I’ve gone through this process in the Instructor Training. I’m still in a process of learning, which I’ll always be in, and I hope you join me in sharing my practice.