Monday, April 5, 2010

The Late Pull

The late pull is one of the most common problems runners have with their technique. According to Pose theory, as well as many other theories of running, once the foot touches the ground it should pulled back up as quickly as possible in order to minimize ground contact time, and to minimize time between strides.

When a runner passes through the Pose, and has started to fall forward, he or she should immediately start pulling his or her foot to the hips. It is literally impossible to pull too early. Most people leave their supporting foot on the ground while falling forward, and pull it just before their lead foot touches the ground. Ideally the rear foot should be pulled at the same time the lead foot start to descend for from the Pose position. The two actions should be simultaneous. This is often referred to "changing support", because the runner is switching from one leg as the supporting leg to the other leg.

When looking at a 30 frames/second video the pull should be started (referred to as toe off) within 1 to 2 frames after the runner reaches the Pose.  So when looking at a video of a runner, from the point the runner reaches the Pose, count the number of frames until the toe of the supporting leg breaks contact with the ground. If it is 1 frame or less, that is perfect. If it is 1+ to 2 frames, that is good. If toe off takes any more than 2 frames, you are looking at a late pull. A good sprinter will reach "toe off" in less than 1 frame, a good distance runner will reach "toe off" in about 1 frame. In my experience, most people will reach "toe off" at about frame 3 or 4.

What can you do to fix a late pull? In Pose Running there is an emphasis on developing the ability to perceive important queues from your body. One of those queues is the perception of the ball of you foot touching the ground. As soon as you feel the ball of your foot in contact with the ground, start pulling.  To facilitate this perception, wear thin soled shoes. If you have read my shoe recommendations, you know that I recommend thin soled running shoes for Pose Running, and the primary reason I recommend thin soles, is that they do not cut you off from your ability to feel when to pull.


  1. Is due to the cadence being too slow? If you get cadence up to 180 will this fix the problem?

  2. Hi Matt,

    That's a good question. The answer is not necessarily, but a fast cadence does help. The faster your cadence, the more difficult it is to run with a late pull. But it is possible especially if you are not over-striding.

    At a cadence of 180, it is actually not that difficult to run with a late pull, because 180 per minute is not very fast if you are not over-striding.

    BTW I enjoy you blog quite a bit. For any other readers out there, the link to Matt's blog is

  3. Thanks for your comments.

    I am finding that running barefoot can correct a late pull. If you run barefoot with a late pull, then you get abrasion on the skin as you push-off. So I think this can get corrected over time with barefoot running.

  4. Hi Matt,

    I agree completely. I'm discovering the same thing as I do more barefoot running.