Sunday, 4 August 2013

Pose running - Does Pose running work or is it great coaching?

Ok, so you’re probably thinking that this fish is a bit of a poser. We’ll, your right :)

About a month ago I had a one on one training session with Sally Lynch from

As you know I’ve been searching for those little 5 and 10% changes that can improve my form and performance and training so that I can keep running injury free.

I’ve tried Heart Rate training (Hit the link to check it outif you want), I’ve been enjoying weekly sessions on the Watt Bike (see what that entails!) and I’ve focused on my breathing and balance in an effort to get faster and stronger (My finding fast post).

The next logical step was to have someone professionally assess my form and see where I can make little tweaks for those extra few seconds per kilometre and additional injury free training. I had heard of Sally through and met her in Melbourne for an hour session. What would that entail? Would it be any good? Could I apply it out there in training and the real world? I was about to find out that running is not running, it’s SCIENCE!

The fish running as he thinks he should!
The session started with Sally videoing my ‘natural’ running style and slowing it down to analyse my landing and push off, drag and how I moved my arms. While it wasn’t bad, it wasn’t pretty either. The pic shows that I am ‘dragging’ my back leg, running too upright and have my arms returning too far behind my body. When you drag that back foot you use up a large amount of energy when it plays catch up with the body. I also had a leg turn over speed that was far too slow.

Here is Sally’s summary of good running form and what I was aiming for:
Summary of Running Form:
1. Body Position- upright, slight lean from ground. Head and face relaxed.
2. Feet- As soon as knee comes through, put the foot down underneath you. Land mid or forefoot underneath knee, close to centre of the body.
3. Arm stroke- controls rhythm, forward and backwards from the shoulder without side to side rotation
4. Hip extension- extend the hip and then leave it alone.
5. Rhythm- Control rhythm and speed through arm stroke and hip extension.
After finding this out we started on the drills.

Drill 1 was to listen to a metronome set to 180BPM, the minimum speed for good cadence. I learnt how to jog on the spot to this speed. Try it, it’s quick! I also had to focus on short uplifts, barely taking my feet off the ground.

Drill 2 was working on my lift. In Pose running, you want your trailing leg to be near vertical, no feet hanging out the back like me. To do this I had to jog on the spot and pull up through the hammies to pull the lead leg up, and place it on the ground in front of me. This entails a quick uplift, like a snap up. The strength comes from your hammies and calves. Think of driving your knee straight up, not the traditional forwards motion. You also want to land midfoot and have your heel just kiss the ground as you move to lift again.
Got it so far? Quick cadence and lifting to the front of your body.

Drill 3 was learning how to lean. The Pose lean (The ‘pose’) is what gives you your effortless speed. Try jogging on the spot again, then fall forward to the ground. What happens? You can do nothing but move forward and start to run. Why, your body wants to stop you falling down and hitting the ground. That quick cadence of your legs and near vertical lift stops you falling and actually propels you forwards. I won’t explain why or how, does it much more efficiently than me.

We put this into practice by jogging forward then leaning forwards. As you felt the lean you moved more quickly. Pull up vertical and you slow down again. Sally also had a great variation on the old Aerobics grapevine that puts you in the lean position.

From here we moved into some great skipping drills, designed to make you
The fish running with the Pose style
light on your feet with that quick cadence and also to teach you to lift up and place the feet down without a long drag. So, here’s the next pic of this poser:
At the end of the session I had developed a more active lean, better lift and pull and less drag of the back foot. Those of you with a good eye and pose experience will see that there is a lot of work to go, but I left feeling confident and ready to give it all a try.

So, what does it all look like? Sally has very kindly let me share the videos she took, before her hard work and at the end of the session. Click on the link to see what I was like and how I had improved. 

Now, what does this all mean in the real world? Has it made an impact on my running? Without giving too much away, I came 34th in the first of the Salomon Series races, roughly 1 minute per km behind the top 2/3 runners.

In the second Salomon race and after two weeks of self ‘pose’ training through Sally’s drills and dedicated practice I finished 13th, only 20 seconds per km behind the winners. You might say it was the course and the field, but finding 30 seconds + per km is no mean feat. Perhaps the tight tracks and constant, rolling hills meant that the lead runners couldn't open the taps and pull their usual speed. Maybe this technical running suited me. Just maybe I have actually improved…

I ‘ve also gone out and taken 1:45 off my best 5km time on my time trial course, breaking the magic sub 20 minute mark.

Is it the Pose running that I have been working on? I don’t know yet, but I owe an enormous thanks to Sally of 

Perhaps its how I have been able to tap into certain elements of Pose: I run with a higher cadence, lean into the hills and try to work with gravity on the flats. I needed to know about my leg motion and have started to try and drive forward and up more to eliminate as much drag as possible. 

As I sign off my questions are:
Have you tried pose running and did it work for you?
What has been the most influential change you’ve made to your technique and why?
As always, I’d love to hear from you.

Cheers, Lachie


  1. I really liked this post Lachie. Thanks for sharing. I had heard of Pose running but never understood it. :) I'll keep some of these things in mind for my next runs!

    1. Hey Ali, great to hear from you again. I had done a little reading into Pose so had a hint of an understanding of it. For me it was getting the leg motion right and taping into a higher cadence that seems to have worked so far. I have a lot of work to go to make it 'just running' and not 'thinking about running while I am running' but I will get there. You'll have to let me know what you tweak, what you feel and how it all goes.
      Cheers :)

  2. This is good stuff! I always try to be aware of how I'm running, but mostly I try to focus on being a fore or mid foot striker and just do what feels right with the rest of my body. "Poser" running sounds interesting - I'll have to pull this post back up again when I get home from work to look into it more closely.

    Props to you for breaking the sub 20 minute mark on the 5K!

    1. Thanks P.J. The sub 20 was a 12 month goal and I'm stoked I got there! Now to push it to a sub 40 10k... For me Pose running or certain elements have made a massive difference in the last 6 weeks. It sounds like if you're already aware of your mid and fore foot strike there may be elements that you could also pick up. If you get the chance, I highly recommend it, even if you don't go full on 'poser' but get some tips that help you along the way. What is your cadence (leg speed turn over) like?
      Cheers, Lachie

  3. Great post! I've been thinking of slowly changing my form. Right now, though, I'm just working on my arm swing. My arms get lazy as I get tired, so I want to keep them moving in an efficient manner.

    1. Hi Stephanie, I'm glad you enjoyed the read. My arms were also one thing that Sally picked me up on. I need to continually work on them in my training as well. One tip she had was to hold a drink bottle in my left hand, as it was lazy. It you keep the tip upright you should get that natural swinging motion.
      You're on the right with making slow and steady changes to your form. Enjoy watching your times and successes improve, I have :)