Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Pose Method

Perhaps it's because posts on my blog are linked from Singapore Daily that I have unconsiously written more from a socio-economic slant, although that wasn't the original intention with which I started this blog.

This blog was originally meant to serve as a repository of my thoughts as well as a communication tool, both with people I know personally (but often do not meet up with in person as often as I would like) and with people I don't know but might find interesting to converse with online.

In any case, it's been a while since I posted anything on running, which had been one primary subject for this blog. Running is, after all, something I spend about 10 hours on a week.

Today's post is on the Pose Method, a modified running form that is purported to improve performance.

Re-engineering one's form in any sport is never a simple or quick matter, particularly without coaching, so I had drastically reduced my mileage from the usual 40 - 60 kilometers per week (off-season) to a more moderate 25 kilometers per week in the last two months to experiment with the Pose Method. Of course, I took care not to sign up for any race this year, such as the Stanchart Marathon which I traditionally run at the end of the year, so there was no pressure to add mileage during the week.

There's a lot of information on the web on the Pose Method; it's just that most people haven't heard of it before. In fact, the creator of the Pose Method, Nicholas Romanov, first found widespread interest in the method not among runners, for which it had been originally developed for, but among the more hardcore open-minded triathlon community.

Very briefly, the Pose Method allegedly improves efficiency and performance while reducing the risk of injury, particularly chronic overuse injuries that typically plague runners. It does so by prescribing naturally falling forefoot landings, rapid ankle raising/pulling, and a forward lean that harnesses the force of gravity.

Does it work?

After two months of experimenting, I think it does. I'm running either faster, or at a comparable speed to what I was running before, but with noticeably less effort.

However, from my experience, the Pose Method is not without caveats.

The Pose Method requires the runner to run at a reasonably fast pace - an equivalent or better than four and a half minute per kilometer pace. That translates into a sub-eight minute per mile pace. If you can't run that fast, you're going to have problems with the forward lean part of the Pose Method.

Secondly, one of the virtues of the Pose Method is that it reduces the likelihood of injury to the joints, especially the knees, by prescribing forefoot landings. The impact of running, however, still needs to be absorbed somewhere, and in the case of the Pose Method, it's the calves and the Achilles tendons that do the job.

The first time I ran using a facsimile of the Pose Method, emphasising forefoot landings, I couldn't run for a week after. The Pose Method is murder on the calves for beginners, before the gastrocnemius and soleus have had time to adapt and remodel in response to the increased loading. Unfortunately, I found out about this only after beginning my training. Now, with increased practice though, I can comfortably run about 14 kilometers with the Pose Method.

Is the Pose Method right for you? Well, it depends on whether you can learn well using just books and videos, which is what I did. And if you're fine with the two caveats above. As I said, re-engineering form is never an easy endeavor, and you should never attempt it if you are currently training for a race or an event. Save it for the off-season instead.

[I have no way of proving it, but I suspect Straits Times journalists read blogs too, and more annoyingly, crib ideas from the blogosphere. It does seem an awful bit of coincidence that a post I had written several weeks back provided ideas for an article that ran just a few weeks later. It wasn't the first coincidental occurrence, but this was the most recent example. So this is just a placeholder here in case Jeanette Wang, resident runner and fitness editor at the Straits Times, or anyone else for that matter, decides to write something on the Pose Method and publish it in the local paper.] 

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