As you probably know from experience, as running speed and fatigue levels increase, it becomes increasingly difficult to concentrate on the external environment and more and more necessary to consciously will that next stride to happen. This act of willing, called €œexecutive brain function, costs a lot of energy and thus actually hastens fatigue even as it is called upon to resist fatigue. While all runners have to concentrate on the movement of their limbs when running near the limits of their speed and endurance, it appears that better runners don’t have to think as much about running while they run, and indeed the very unconsciousness of their running is a major aspect of their superior efficiency. Much as an expert knitter can carry on a conversation while knitting a sweater, seemingly paying no attention whatsoever to the workings of her fingers, whereas the beginning knitter develops a headache after 20 minutes of totally focused knitting, so ferociously must she concentrate on the needles, the highly trained runner can mentally €œget out of the way of his stride and let the brain’s unconscious motor centers control it with no wasted energy, whereas the beginner must force his legs to obey the command to keep moving. Where running differs from skills such as swinging a golf club and knitting is that golfers and knitters have to begin the learning process with conscious imitation of demonstrated techniques, but runners do not. In all skilled movements, technique becomes more unconscious as it becomes better, but the learning of running technique can be (and usually is) done through blind trial and error from the very beginning. The question that Chi Running and other running methods challenge us with is whether runners would be better off learning running the same way golfers learn golf and knitters learn knitting, even though running is clearly innate. While there is still much more that we need to learn about how the running stride improves, a preponderance of existing evidence indicates that conscious manipulation of the stride is not the best way to run better. Conscious stride manipulation forces the runner to think about his stride, and as we have seen, thinking is the enemy of movement efficiency. Defenders of Chi Running, the Pose method, and the rest will argue that thinking is required only until the new technique becomes €œsecond nature, but there are other problems. Chief among them is that conscious stride manipulation involves making gross motor changes in movement patterns that are usually plainly visible to the outside observer. However, the real improvements in running economy resulting from long-term training that Stephen McGregor was able to measure are fine motor adjustments that cannot be consciously controlled. In the real world, the stride improves as the unconscious brain figures out how to sustain desired speeds with less activation of fewer motor units, not by changing where the arms and legs go. Such gains in efficiency are visible only as a general increase in the beauty of the stride.