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Pose running/injuries

I recently had my running analyzed by a BTF (British Triathlon Federation) coach. I didn't know what to expect but was surprised to be told that my running style was all wrong, heel striker (although only slightly), stride length too long and too much vertical motion. I also found this rather surprising as I try and keep my stride length short and am aware that any motion not directed forwards is a waste of energy. I subsequently found out that he was comparing me to the pose method of running, which it appears the BTF are fully committed to teaching as the only way to run, presumably because of the successes of some of the GB elites such as Tim Don.

I listened to the advice, did some drills, tried some pose running (although I think completely incorrectly) and left in a rather confused state, that I had been getting it wrong for all these years, but the thought of injury free and faster running appealed to me, and the theory seemed sound.

I am very opened minded when it comes to new training ideas/techniques, e.g. total immersion swimming, and it’s hard to ignore when they quote the elites who have adopted this technique with great success.

I was told to expect sore calves for a few weeks whilst making the transition, but found I could hardly walk for 3 days. I have since bought Dr Romanov’s book and spent hours researching on the web and various forums and seen that overloading of the calves is a common complaint in the early weeks, and the Achilles can take a lot of stress as well.

I did explain to the BTF coach that two injuries that I am most prone to, and have caused me the most time away from training were, calf strains and Achilles problems and have found that even trying pose running for only about ½ a mile has brought on very sore calves, a new ankle problem, and a twinge in an old Achilles injury which took me about 4 months to get rid of last year.

I have played various sports all my life but switched to serious running/triathlons only about 3-4 years ago. I am 41 and my run times are still coming down. Not quick, 42 mins for 10k, but am wondering if I should be changing my style at my time of life and more specifically, when is the right time to switch from drills to running.

I know from the various forums that it can take a long time to properly ‘get’ the pose technique, and maybe just before the race season is not the best time to start, but I am willing to invest the time and effort and miss a season competing if it benefits me in the long run.

My main concern is that after finally ridding myself of my previous running injuries, i.e. calves/Achilles specifically, I could be putting myself at risk to further problems.

My dilemma was made worse when I sought the advice of my own club coach who, rather reluctantly, did a pose running session with the BTF, as part of his coaching qualification a while ago. In that one session he injured his calf and was out for 3 months, so his opinion on pose, as you might imagine, is not positive, don’t do it at your time of life, you will get injured. (If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it)

Any comments/advice would be gratefully received.



  • BoycieBoycie Posts: 189

    This is my take on it, although it is only my opinion and what I've picked up from others. I'm in the process of completing my level 2 BTA at the moment and during both my level 1 and 2 courses questions have popped up about Pose running. None of the BTA coach educators I have been taught by seem to be too taken by Pose running. The general feeling I get is that it basically teaches you to run the way most people do naturally, but with a different method of teaching, and the people who are running it are making a lot of money. This isn't at all un-common, it is similar to Long Term Athlete Development, no evidence that it works but it's a product for sale.

    I have read articles that report an increase in running injuries when starting to use the Pose method, because you're asking the muscles to perform tasks they are not used to. Quite a few coaching manuals I have read suggest that is someone has a bad running style you should only spend a limited amount of time trying to change it, if it doesn't happen in a few weeks then just work with what you've got (who's going to tell Paula Radcliffe she needs to change her style?).

    I wouldn't want to undermine the coach that you have worked with and if Pose running is benefiting the elites than who am I to argue but I do have issue with some of the analysis of running. I would be interested to know why your coach believes your stride length is too long. It seems to me that everyone talks about short stride lengths but a long stride is only an issue if it slows you down. I know over the last couple of K of a race my stride length increases and so does my pace, although I realise I couldn't maintain it throughout 10 km. Also be aware of the whole issue of heel strike. Even though we are all told to land on the mid foot, which I agree with, you will still make initial contact with the ground with your heel, you just want to try and reduce the braking forces, just make sure your coach isn't expecting you to literally land on your mid foot.

    I know this doesn't give you any conclusive answers and I don't pretend to know them, but from what I see alot of good coaches don't have much time for Pose running and gait analysis has to be done well to make it worth while.

  • insideinside Posts: 22
    Hi Matt, very interesting post.

    Yes, there is a good degree of hype over the pose method of running and it has been likened to the church of scientology in its fundamentalism.

    Maybe because it has worked for elite athletes and age groupers alike.

    I don't think that you can gain a full understanding of the methodology from just 1 session. I would say it took me about a year with very little running and definately no races to really "get it".

    As Boycie said, it takes time AND patience to teach muscles to do something different. However,Boycie, I would take issue with your point about stride length.

    In perhaps the greatest race of all time, the Sydney 2000 olympic 10000m final. Haile Gabrselassie (the nearest thing to the modern all round runner and often described as having a "classical action") just threw his body at the line and let his legs catch up. Paul Tergat - relying on stride length- couldn't physically move his legs fast enough. There are a couple of versions of this on you tube - just have a look.

    The point is that you need to understand the science behind it and read it before you can dismiss it as a "product sale"

    Look forward to more chatter

    PS My story is below


  • BoycieBoycie Posts: 189
    I can see this being a long debate between the users of this forum. Just to clarify some of my feelings on the subject with relation to the post from Inside, in case I gave the wrong impression.

    I'm definately not dismissing Pose running, but the feedback I've had on it has come from good quality coaches and the general consensus from them is that it's not all it's cracked up to be. I haven't used it myself so it would be wrong for me to say it either works or doesn't. As for the science, I've read a few research articles on it by the likes of Tim Noakes and others and the results are very varied, as with any research.

    As for the stride length issue, I don't disagree with a word that Inside says regarding stride length/rate, I would just be careful that it hasn't become such an issue that everyone isn't told to reduce stride length because it's the first thing we are all taught.

  • BritspinBritspin Posts: 1,655
    I thought I had read that Mr Don has somewhat abandoned the pure pose method (if there is such a thing) & integrated some of its 'lessons' into his style as another tool in the toolbox, which I think is the way I would go, 220 ran an article a while back with several different running techniques, all had good & bad in them..take what works & discard the rest.
  • insideinside Posts: 22

    I can also feel a long debate coming on (US forums have virtually come to blows over pose running...)

    I think the most important thing is to read the stuff, Romanov, Noakes etc and find out if it works for you and if not - bin it. Rather than relying on what other people say and/or what we are told.

    I think Tim Don has ditched the pose method and incorporated "aspects" of it into his running - But thats his job - the rest of us are doing it because we enjoy it.

    Like I said, look forwward to more chatter

    (Boycie, hopefully we are still cool?)

  • BoycieBoycie Posts: 189

    I hope so too, I certainly don't expect to come to blows over this. It's all interesting reading.

  • BritspinBritspin Posts: 1,655
    Those americans huh? It is all a learning curve is it not? Try it (excuse the pun) adapt it to you your lifestyle, wants, needs, & discard what does not fit. Pose has made me more conscious of keeping my centre of gravity over my base of support (how clever does that sound?) & therefore not striding out too far & trashing my ageing knees, I am now lighter on my feet (so to speak ahem).
  • insideinside Posts: 22
    Britspin wrote:
    I am now lighter on my feet (so to speak ahem).

    Thats really interesting because a while back, I went out for a run with a lady from work. She is not a runner but had a lady runners build. Small and compact.

    She remarked about how light I was on my feet. I am 6' 2" and 13 stones. By contrast, she was very heavy and made the familiar "pounding" sound on the pavement..

  • insideinside Posts: 22
    Britspin wrote:

    It is all a learning curve is it not?

    It is amazing that I still see things written in forums and blogs like "I tried the pose method on my 9 mile run at the weekend and it didn't work"

    Yes and you learn to drive by driving to the south of france on your first lesson don't you...

  • BritspinBritspin Posts: 1,655
    Precisely my point, try these things let them breathe & grow for a while if it still doesn't fit, discard.

    I love reading the triathlon press when its full of the 'this will only take/add on another 5 mins to your workout..' that would be the second or third 'only 5 mins' tip in that issue, so theres 15 mins, each issue etc etc. Given that there is always a how do I fit my training in thread going on..these 5 min are not helpful!
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