I liken my running style to that of a scared baby animal trying to escape from a dangerous predator. And I would know, because DC Run coach, Sally Lynch, filmed me during our first session. You see I'm completing a five-week challenge which will end in me competing in August’s City2Surf, and I’m what you'd class as a beginner. Very beginner, if that's even a category. Keep reading. . .
While I don’t expect to be able to run the entire 14k, I do intend to run as fast as I can for as long as I can. Sally is (patiently) taking me through three coaching sessions to help me better prepare for the big race.
In our first session, I was faced with the grim reality of my lack of running skills and non-existent technique. I’ve never been taught how to run and as it turns out, there’s a way to do it that’ll see me running for longer, reducing the risk of injury (greatly) and actually sustaining energy — rather than expending it.
Enter the Pose running technique. The mantra goes a little something like this: Pose, Fall, Pull. This describes the movement. Add in Cadence (frequency), and you have yourself the perfect running technique. And this isn’t anything fancy or new, this is the most traditional way of running and one we should all follow.
Interestingly, when Sally tried to point out one runner in Sydney’s The Domain to use as an example of good Pose, she couldn’t find one. All we saw was a lot of heel-toe-heel-toe pounding the pavement. Wait, what? We’re not supposed to run heel to toe? No!
I asked Sally to break down the four elements — Pose, Fall, Pull, Cadence — to give you an idea of how to execute the technique correctly. I can only liken it to a skilled trot, where the ball of your foot makes contact with the ground before your heel.
Pictured from right: A basic sketch of the Pose, Fall, Pull movements.
“The Pose is relatively straight forward,” says Sally. “The running pose is designed to be the optimum position for falling forward when running. The non-supporting foot is tucked under the hip, raising the body’s center-of-mass. This position also moves the weight of the non-supporting leg to the front making falling forward easier. It also allows for positioning the foot under the body’s center-of-mass when the foot is placed down during the Pull.”
“By leaning forward from the ankles through the hips, the runner loses balance and falls forward. The greater the angle of the lean the faster there runner moves forward via the use of rotational torque,” explains Sally.
“The angle of the lean will usually be the primary factor determining running speed. A world class 10k runner will have a lean of approximately 10 degrees. A world class sprinter will probably have a lean of 18 to 20 degrees. The maximum angle a human can sustain while running is 22.5 degrees. Dr. Romanov has measured Usain Bolt’s lean to be 19.5 degrees.
“The most important point about the Fall is for the runner to maintain the Pose, until he or she begins the Pull. What I mean by ‘maintaining the Pose’ is that the runner should keep his or her foot underneath the hips until he or she enters the Pull phase of the technique. Most runners drop out of the Pose too quickly, and this results in landing in front of the body’s centre-of-mass and usually on the heel.”
“The Pull is literally pulling the foot from the ground directly to the hips. However, at the same time, this is when the runner drops his or her non-supporting foot to the ground. In other words, there is simultaneous exchange when the supporting foot is pulled up and the non-supporting foot is dropped down, and this is often referred as a ‘change of support’,” she explains.
“The simultaneous exchange is critical. If the timing is off, one way or the other, the runner is either landing in front of his or her centre of gravity, thus breaking with each step, or the runner is executing a late pull, creating counterbalance with step. Counterbalance impedes falling, and this results in slower running. Most runners do both. They drop their non-supporting foot too quickly landing on their heels, and they execute a late pull, preventing efficient falling.”
“Cadence is simply how quickly the runner executes the Pose, Fall and Pull,” says Sally. “Ideally the cadence is 180 steps per minute or faster. With the exception of sprinting, a skilled runner will usually fall into a cadence of between 180 to 200 steps per minute. Sprinters will usually run at between 250 and 300 steps per minute.”
So there you have it. While I could go on, this is the most basic way of describing the Pose running technique. I highly recommend all keen runners — beginner or otherwise — have one coaching session to learn to correct way to run. The magical thing is I felt like I could run for miles, and this coming from someone who gets puffed out in five or so minutes with her scared baby animal technique.