In Running

December 14, 2011

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Think Olympic lifts and gymnastics are important fitness tools? Paul Eich says running benefits athletes more.

Fascinated by the idea of the Pose Method of running since I first was exposed to it on CrossFit.com, I finally attended a training seminar with Pose Method creator Dr. Nicholas Romanov on Sept. 17. What I learned is that without Pose training, I am an inadequate coach, and I’m just begging for injury as a runner.

Running is a cycle of three things: pose, fall, pull. That sounds easy, and it is. But it is also much more difficult because to run well you must sustain and embrace the falling. The pose is how you transition from one foot to the other. If you stand on one foot, bend the supporting knee and pull the other foot up under your hip, you’re in the runner’s Pose.

The best runners in the world are running from pose to pose with precise timing such that their supporting foot contacts the ground directly under their center of gravity. When watching the slow-motion review of the seminar participants, though, it was clear we were running from pose to pose with poor timing. We were moving slower, with less efficiency because we were using muscles to do what gravity could do for us. We were running with fear, running with a desire to be in control, running with the equivalent of one foot on the brake and one on the gas.

The good news was we could all be taught to see the waste in our movement in just one session of “coached watching.”

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22 Comments on “Lessons From a Pose Seminar ”

1

wrote …

Though I have not taken a "POSE Method TM" course from what I have read the basic principles of POSE just make sense. Fast runners (read: sprinters) spend a huge amount of time working technique so why not slower (read: long distance) runners? Two caveats, just in my humble opinion:

1. It seems to me that one needs to be careful about making blanket statements about there being "one" true method for anything, including running. That's rather like saying that there is "one true diet" for everyone. Truth is a pathless land (Krishnamurti).

2. It would seem logical to me that significant changes in running technique must be applied VERY carefully. The motor & MSK system in most individuals has adapted to years and many thousands of reps of a certain movement. A radical change in running style (no matter how "efficient" one claims it to be) applied too aggressively would also seem to me to be begging for injury.

As a matter of interest, could one also not substitute some terms as follows? "What I learned is that without Pose/Oly lifting/gymnastics/etc. training, I am an inadequate coach, and I’m just begging for injury as a runner/Olympic lifter/gymnast/etc." Just curious.

2

wrote …

Having taken a one day POSE workshop, three private training sessions from a POSE instructor, read the book, watched the video and worked on the many drills, I remain a bit of a skeptic. I am 18 months removed from first beginning the process.

Takeaways? (1) A huge positive is that I now run injury free after previously fighting crippling shin splints/stress fractures. (2) An almost equally huge negative is that my enjoyment of running has been dramatically reduced; I can no longer let go and run without thinking about mechanics. Even on short intervals, I continue to think about mechanics. It just is not fun. (3) I don't believe I run any more efficiently than before, at least as measured by my perceived exertion levels and running times. Some studies out there seem to suggest that POSE is not more efficient. For example: http://www.sportsscientists.com/2007/10/pose-running-reduces-running-economythe.html

On balance, I think I would have been well served to simply focus on a midfoot strike below the body and not confuse matters with pose fall pose, leaning from the ankles, and all the rest.

3

replied to comment from Thomas Davenport

Thanks for posting that link -- it's an interesting perspective, essentially recommending incremental changes in running technique instead of wholesale change. What caught my attention, though, was the point about how difficult it was for participants in the study to properly learn POSE technique even with 12 weeks of one-on-one guidance, and consequently questioning how practical it is for people to learn it on their own from DVD's, books and seminars. I've also always felt -- and this is only my humble opinion here -- that many of the videos we see in the Journal including (maybe especially) those from Dr. Romanov himself are long on extolling the virtues of POSE but frustratingly short on concrete instruction. By contrast, every time I watch an Oly lifting video from Coach B or gymnastics video from Jeff T, I come away with tips and insights that I can use that day. As someone who has obviously spent a lot of time formally studying POSE, would you care to comment on this? I guess I'm curious to hear your opinion on how much "there" is there, if you know what I mean. Thanks!

4

replied to comment from Bill Maynard

I'm not sure I can answer that question; I just know that POSE has never "clicked" for me. . . the "pose, fall, pull" keys do not resonate to me, I guess because I find running to be a constant, fluid movement.

My cynical side sees POSE as just a marketing product; I do not see it as a reasonable substitute for ongoing coaching and analysis of running technique.

It seems that there are lots of people who have derived significant benefits from learning the method just at a weekend workshop -- as mentioned before, I can now run injury free. On the other hand, Haile Gebrselassie (and a host of other world class runners) doesn't run POSE and seems to do okay for himself, so is it really the one true method of running?


5

wrote …

As Paul know's first hand, I'm not much of a runner myself. But I must say, nice article my friend. Well done.

See you at Faction.

Chris

6

replied to comment from Thomas Davenport

Thanks for responding, and I appreciate your thoughts. You describe my experience as well -- POSE just has never clicked for me either, and that's why I keep looking for practical guidance in the POSE-related videos here on the Journal to see if perhaps I've missed or misunderstood something. So although POSE may work very well for some, ultimately I'll probably take the approach you mentioned in your first post and just focus on a midfoot strike below the body without worrying too much about the rest.

7

wrote …

The arguments I've seen and from a very brief viewing of an old clip of Haile Gebrselassie running, are that he does use Pose, he just didn't get to it by using Dr Romanov's methods. Funnily enough Haile Gebrselassie is one of the atheltes Dr Romanov shows as an example of how Pose is supposed to look in his presentations.
The logic is that a top level runner will use the most efficient technique possible and by whatever route will arrive at something at least approximating Pose, which does seem to be the case wherever I've checked. Admittedly not a comprehensive survey.

To me, any change in running technique that reduces injury has improved that runner. It may not have improved their performance in terms of winning races, but it's made it possible for them to continue with their sport instead of burning brightly and briefly.

I don't claim that Pose is the be all and end all of methods to learn how to run, but it is a very good canned solution to many of the problems that untrained runners experience. If people expect it to be the holy grail most will be disappointed.
It's a good way to learn effective running technique is all.

8

wrote …

"It seems to me that one needs to be careful about making blanket statements about there being "one" true method for anything, including running"

While your point is absolutely correct about most things, I mean this differently. For example, to spit, you must purse your lips, it defines what it means to spit. To walk you must put one front of the other but always have a foot in contact w the ground. To run, you must pass through the runner's POSE. There is no other way, it is a defining element of running. The variable is the timing and body position you have as you pass through the POSE.

There must be more than one way to learn greater skill in running, but running is defined by the runner's POSE. I could be convinced otherwise were you to present video of someone running who is not passing through the runner's POSE.

9

replied to comment from Chris Moore

Chris, thank you!

10

replied to comment from Tony Webster

It would seem logical to me that significant changes in running technique must be applied VERY carefully.
--Tony, yes, that's what I did

As a matter of interest, could one also not substitute some terms as follows? "What I learned is that without Pose/Oly lifting/gymnastics/etc. training, I am an inadequate coach, and I’m just begging for injury as a runner/Olympic lifter/gymnast/etc." Just curious.
--True - the point was that until I understood POSE running, I would have never considered it to be in the same class of potentially risky movements as gymnastics, olympic lifts, etc.

11

replied to comment from Bill Maynard

Bill - one concrete thing you can try on your own is "100 up". One hundred times, practice the change of support drill. Do this prior to each run. This is as simple as standing on one leg, knee bent some, weight on the ball of the foot, and trying to 'pull' your foot to your hip; you'll notice the body will drop the other foot to keep you from falling. Keep the legs centered under your body during the changes.

12

replied to comment from Thomas Davenport

bill, if I was your coach, I'd get you to get engage the "reassociative" work of Tony Robbins or NLP.

You seem - this is a wag obviously - to have associated pain, injury and then work to an activity that you used to associate with something pleasant, probably a sense of escape. With the right training, you may be able to re-associate running to pleasure, and would be able to both POSE and escape as you run. A coach that works w these tools is http://www.executivecoachinglifecoaching.com/

13

wrote …

"Haile Gebrselassie (and a host of other world class runners) doesn't run POSE and seems to do okay for himself, so is it really the one true method of running?"

HB may not have learned to run from dr. R, but he or she is in fact running according to the principles identified in Dr. R's study of running - moving from one pose to the next without wasted effort. As Dr. R says, he did not invent POSE running, he identified it, quantified it, and is teaching folks how to use the principles to run with skill

14

replied to comment from Bill Maynard

Bill, I hope that works for you ("just focus on a midfoot strike below the body without worrying too much about the rest")

... but my bet is that focusing on putting your foot down - landing on the fore foot - will not help as much as it would if you learned to "pull the foot" with the right timing. I'm not suggesting that's particularly easy, it reminds me of a Jimmy Buffet song, "It was so simple, like the Jitterbug it plumb evaded me." But once you can feel it, whoa!

15

replied to comment from Craig Massey

Thanks Craig, FWIW, well said.

16

replied to comment from Paul Eich

Paul, thanks for your response, and I will definitely work this drill. I appreciate the article and your thoughtful responses to the comments here. Oh, and by the way I remember when you used to post regularly on the mainsite -- but I imagine you've got less time for that these days running your own box. Anyway, great article and I hope you'll be contributing more to the Journal in the future.

17

wrote …

Eich has a fantastic line early on that picks up: ' . . . if your lead foot reaches the ground before you pull your rear leg into the running pose, your ability to fall forward is compromised.'

Just above, in the comments, he describes the '100 Up' change of support drill. A few reps into that I realized that during a run, one leg or the other is always posing. That was a decent cue as I motored along: one leg or the other was always up, ankle bone near the other knee. A picture snapped at any time would capture that. (conceivably, theoretically, or just as a cue)

By focusing on the rear foot, I noticed that the biggest change came with my lead. It was falling, or I was stepping, straight down. i used to catch glimpses of my knees in the bottom of my field of vision, which means I was swinging my stride out front a bit. This time around the direction my leg took was straight down, the same as if I was descending a staircase.

Something's always posing. You won't have time to swing anything. If nothing's forward, you can lean, and you'll see this: if you're dog tired, you just pull only so high, and you'll save energy by not swinging your strides forward.

Great article. (I think that's progress for me.)

18

wrote …

Bill, thank you, I hope that drill is useful to you.

Thomas - sound to be me like you got an improvement breakthrough! The next thing you could try to feel - especially while doing the 100 up - is the tension in the hamstring while that foot is on the ground. IOW - as you try to pull the HS to the hip, it has to happen while the foot is still weighted, IOW, just after the foot strikes the ground. It seems counterintuitive to "pull" a weighted foot, but thinking of it like that, and feeling it, really helped me.

19

replied to comment from Craig Massey

Funnily enough Haile Gebrselassie is one of the atheltes Dr Romanov shows as an example of how Pose is supposed to look in his presentations.

And here is the link to that video: http://youtu.be/PUJhnEmx8Do for all who may be interested.

20

replied to comment from Uros Trujkic

Uros, Thanks for posting that, I enjoyed it quite a lot!

21

wrote …

Full disclosure I have had the luxury of learning the Pose running, training with Paul the past few months...I have been trying to break that "10min. mile" barrier since high school, yea I know that is not record breaking for most but for me it's always been a challenge. Why? Well now I know why! Try shifting from a heal striking, quad dominant gait (think Clydesdale horse stomping with a heal brake) to POSE and guess what, you get Efficiency & Speed AND I'm like "Grasshopper" quiet & quick...so heck yes I'm proud of my 9:08 PR especially since I know I have the potential to get a lot faster and enjoy the natural skill of running...and I think that's really cool for a soon to be 40yr.old working mom of 3 :)
Thank You Coach Eich!!!

22

wrote …

Cristi - you got an 8 minute mile coming your way, and sooner rather than later with the discipline you practice!

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