Monday, December 19, 2005

Trying the Pose method

This one has been tough. I've known for a long time that I'm a heel-stiker, that is, I land on my heels when running, then roll forward to the balls of my feet and eventually 'toe-off.' I've also know for a while that there is a negative force vector when my heels stike -- I'm actually pushing myself slightly backwards for a split second before I roll forward on my foot and begin to push myself forward. Obviously, that is not a desirable thing if I want to get to the finish line quickly and efficiently. Another disadvantage to landing on my heels is the stress it places on my ankles, knees, and hips. The heel impact causes sort of a jolt with every step.

I've known about the Pose method for at least a couple of years now. The developer of the method is Nicholas Romanov (he's from eastern Europe, I think). It's more complicated than I'll get into here, but one of the big differences in it and the way I run now is that in the Pose method I would land on the midfoot/ball of my foot, not on my heel. The idea is that there is less impact on the joints, less foot-time on the ground, and a recruitment of muscular elasticity as a power source to facilitate forward motion. It's supposed to increase efficiency while reducing the chance of injury.

I bought the book a couple of years ago and got fired up about the new style after reading some of it. The next day I eagerly tried to go run using the Pose method. I didn't make it 100 yards down the road before I felt so much like a cartoon character that I gave up on it. My heartrate skyrocketed and my calves ached.

Last week, Tony told me that I really could benefit from altering my running gait to incorporate Pose method ideas. So I have decided to go cold turkey and quit the heel-striking if it kills me, and it might. My first Pose run was 6 days ago. I made it 3.5 miles. It was tough, but I toughed it out. For the next 5 days, my calves were too sore for me to run again, but I could tell that it was just training soreness, not the kind of pain you get from a joint or connective tissue injury.

Yesterday I tried it again. It was still very difficult to do, but this time the soreness is much less the first day after the run, as might be expected. I wore a heart rate monitor this time. I ran at about and 8-minute mile. During the run, my percieved effort was higher than with my old heel-strike method. I had to concentrate quite a bit while running to do it right. I expected my heartrate to be higher for my given pace than with my old method.

But when I downloaded the data and graphed it -- surprise! the Pose method in all of its awkwardness on my second run was slightly more efficient from a heartrate standpoint than recent heel-strike runs. I have concluded that once I run enough with the Pose method to make it second nature and to properly strengthen my calves, I should definately pick up some efficiency.

Another benefit is that for triathlon, the more I can use my calves to power the run, the better off I will be after getting off a quad-burning bike split. I'll keep you posted on my progress.