Push-ups are a great way to teach the fundamentals of movement. Jumping is a great way to teach principles that translate to athletic movements. But everything we do in the weight room or in CrossFit becomes somewhat limited due to the fact that we don’t take barbells and wallballs out to the athletic field with us. In fact, there is only one thing we do in formal strength and conditioning practice that happens when we cross into the sporting world…running.
Running, also known as that thing you do between pull-ups and kettlebell swings to give your forearms a rest. But as repetitive, unsatisfying, and annoying as it can be, failing to understand the basics of running leaves a major hole in your training program. And the picture above is the key.
Every single person on earth who participates in the action we know as running will pass through the pose shown above where the ankles, hips, and shoulders form a straight line. This position, discovered by Dr. Nicholas Romanov in the 70’s, is known as the Runner’s Pose. What Dr. Romanov also found was that runners who were efficient at making this position tend to be run faster than runners who were less efficient at making that figure-4 shape. So when first formulating a goal for running, an efficient replication of the Runner’s Pose should be the goal.
The best way to replicate this pose comes with one action: pulling your foot from the ground. A “pull” happens when the bottom foot (support) begins moving up towards the hips before the top foot starts coming down (as opposed to “stepping” being the top foot coming down first). It is a subtle difference –considering we will still pass through Runner’s Pose whether we want to or not – but it is the difference between running fast and running slow, or running pain-free or running injured.
Now, if we do this forever, we’ll just keep pulling in place and never actually go anywhere. So in order to move forward, we do not push off the ground, or reach with our foot, or lean the shoulders forward. Our body can only move if our hips do. For forward movement to happen (or any movement for that matter) in running your hips need to move in relation to where your feet are. This is called falling.
We place ourselves in the best running position (Pose), we fall in the direction we want to go (usually forward), then we pull our foot (back into Pose) to allow us to keep falling. It is gravity’s business to move us forward; we just need to catch on for the ride.
The important thing to understand is this is not my opinion of how you should run, or Dr. Romanov, Brian Mackenzie, Valerie Hunt, or any other coach’s for that matter. This is an observation of how human beings run. All human beings. So don’t go thinking you are a special seed like gravity doesn’t apply to you and your goals. This is the frame we are all bound in.
What is a matter of opinion, however, is the best way to train to meet the standard nature sets for us. In the next couple articles I will cover some basic drills and practices that myself and other local coaches have found useful at recreational, high school, college, and professional levels.
Until then your homework is to watch as many people running as possible and try to find an exception who doesn’t hit the Runner’s Pose. The more you’ll see it, the more you’ll buy in.
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