Pose Running Drills
As with any methodology, the theory has to be understood first and then practice:
- Raise your ankle straight up under your hip, using the hamstrings
- Keep your support time short
- Your support is always on the balls of your feet
- Do not touch the ground with your heels
- Avoid shifting weight over your toes: raise your ankle when the weight is on the ball of your foot
- Keep your ankle fixed at the same angle
- Keep knees bent at all times
- Feet remain behind the vertical line going through your knees
- Keep stride length short
- Keep knees and thighs down, close together, and relaxed
- Always focus on pulling the foot from the ground, not on landing
- Do not point or land on the toes (see Fig 3: Toe running)
- Gravity, not muscle action, controls the landing of the legs
- Keep shoulder, hip and ankle in vertical alignment
- Arm movement is for balance, not for force production
Pose drills to get the skills:
A transition to pose running style should not be taken lightly, you should practise the drills (building up the level of difficulty) once or twice daily, three sets of 10 to 15 reps per drill. Drills should be practised for at least a week before attempting to run in pose, and should be performed before a run.
All drills should be performed barefoot for added awareness of the movements, on a forgiving surface such as grass or a running track. The drills fall into three sections:
- Basic drills to reinforce the pose position, the use of the hamstring in pulling the foot from the ground and the feeling of falling forward under the effect of gravity (drills 1-7);
- Intermediate drills to reinforce these feelings (drills 8 and 9);
- Advanced drills to aid speed, balance, strength and reflexiveness none shown here).
Drill 1 (Fig 4 below): Pose stance
This to be practised as a static pose, held for up to 30 seconds. It requires good postural control; no support is allowed. The idea is to challenge the mechanoreceptors in the joints and soft tissues to provide feedback to the brain regarding joint position and muscle tone.
- It is the basic position to hold and to practise balance
- The use of a mirror is recommended
- Shoulder, hip and ankle should always be vertically aligned
- Point of contact with the ground is always the midfoot
- Hip is always held over the support point, which is the midfoot.
Drill 2: Change of support without moving
- Shift centre of gravity sideways from one leg to the other, maintaining support on the midfoot
- You must feel the weight shift from one leg to the other before pulling up
- It is important to feel the weight shift and then the acceleration of this movement by the pulling-up of the hamstring
- Pull the ankle up vertically under the hip using the hamstring only, not hip flexors or quadriceps
- Allow the leg to drop to the ground – do not drive it down
- Mental focus is on the pulling-up action, not the leg drop.
Drill 3 (Fig 5 below): Pony
- This practises changing support using minimum effort and minimal range of movement
- Simultaneously lift the ankle of the support leg while allowing your body weight to shift to the other leg
- Use only the hamstring.
Keep in mind your support point on the midfoot (toes will also be in contact).
Drill 4 (Fig 6 below): Forward change of support
- This puts the pony into action; practise slowly at first
- Lean slightly forward and simultaneously pull the ankle up under the hip using the hamstring and allow the non-support leg to drop to the ground under the force of gravity
- Make sure the weight transfer is effortless and that the foot is allowed to fall.
Drill 5 (Fig 7 below): Foot tapping
- Single-leg drill, 10-15 taps per set
- This emphasises the vertical leg action and use of hamstrings rather than driving the knees up and forward using your hip flexors and quads
- It prevents your foot from being too far out in front of the body, which would cause you to land on your heel and create a braking action
- Aim for rapid firing of the hamstring, lifting the foot from the ground as soon as it touches down
- You must feel the muscles fire and then relax. Avoid a forceful pull all the way up. If you are doing it correctly the lower leg will decelerate after the initial firing and accelerate as gravity returns it to the ground.
Drill 6 (Fig 8 below): Hopping
This movement progresses the tapping drill. The momentum for the hopping support leg should come from the hamstring action on the non-hopping leg. Take care: this is an advanced movement which will place unhealthy stress on structures such as the Achilles/calf muscles if not performed correctly.
- Start by pulling up the nonhopping leg with your hamstring and use the reaction force of the ground to aid this recoil effect
- Do not push with the calf but just lift the ankle with the hamstring and make sure the ankle is relaxed between hops.
Drill 7: Front lunge
- Single-leg drill which increases the range of movement of the hopping drill
- This truly forces you to isolate the hamstring muscles
- Practise initially on the spot until you are stable enough to allow forward movement
- Keep weight on front leg; the back leg drags behind
- Pull ankle vertically up under the hip, using the hamstring
- Keep contact time with the ground as short as possible
- Allow rear leg to follow loosely
- Remember to land on the ball of your foot
- Forward movement is created not by pushing off but by leaning forward from the hips. You drag the rear leg behind you for balance.
Drill 8 (Fig 9 below): Switch
- Both ankles are being picked up
- This time you are picking the rear leg up as well with the hamstring
- Transfer weight from one leg to the other as you alternate support
- Keep contact time with the ground to a minimum, only as necessary to change support
- Keep heels off the ground and land on the balls of your feet
- Always think of the pose stance: good vertical alignment of shoulder, hip and foot.
Drill 9: Running lunge
- This is pose running, but with a deliberate emphasis on the speed of the hamstring pull-up
- The aim is to teach the working leg to react as quickly as possible, minimising support time on the ground
- The runner pulls the heel up vertically from the ground but allows it to fall easily to the ground.