Thursday, March 24, 2011

Review of The 4-Hour Body – Ultra Endurance Chapters

In his book “The 4-Hour Body”, Timothy Ferriss wrote two chapters on Running. In keeping with one of the important themes of his book “Minimal Effective Dose”, he focused attempting to run an ultra-endurance event with minimal training. So it is not surprising that he ended up working with Brian Mackenzie from CrossFit Endurance.

The CrossFit Endurance Program is largely misunderstood, and both the running and scientific communities have been too quick to dismiss it. The fact is that the CrossFit Endurance program does get results. However, those results have yet to be quantified or qualified. More on this later, I’ll be discussing this more in an upcoming post.

The basic ideas of CrossFit Endurance are the following:
  • It is possible to reduce the total training mileage by as much as 2/3rds, by replacing it with a high quality program of general fitness.
  • Technique is an important element of running success. The running technique that CrossFit Endurance promotes is Pose Running Technique.
  • Diet is another important aspect of CrossFit Endurance. They promote the Paleolithic Diet. As do I. Most runners have horrible diets comprised of lots of sugar, grains and other things the human body was never meant to ingest. Ultimately these bad dietary habits affect the health and performance of runners.
Unfortunately, most runners are one-dimensional athletes, with very poor levels of general fitness, particularly runners who specialize in running very long distances. They can run, but not much else.  CrossFit Endurance makes general fitness a priority, and it is considered the training base for all high performance physical activities including running. Again these ideas need to be tested, quantified and qualified. However, given the reported results, at a minimum, I think it is clear that most runners can benefit from a broader and more intense fitness program even if it means running fewer miles.

For the most part, the author gives a good overview of the CrossFit Endurance program. However I was very disappointed with the section on Pose Running.  Here is list of what disappointed me.
  • I assume that the author learned Pose Running Technique from Brian Mackenzie. If that’s the case, then Brian Mackenzie is no longer teaching Pose as Dr. Romanov teaches it. The section on analyzing the Pose Technique was done with a methodology that is distinctly different from how Dr. Romanov teaches technique analysis.
  • Based on the author’s comments, he does seem to “get” the underlining concepts of Pose on an intuitive level, but he certainly did not acquire a very deep understanding of the technique. If he did, he would not be saying that Pose only works for some people.
  • The author brings up the Pose study I’ve already critiqued (see the link below), and he quotes its authors with the basic message, “People are different so Pose does not work for everyone”.  Given that the author generally has a good eye for bad science, I’m disappointed that he would bring this study up at all.
  • The author makes mention of an imaginary “Pose marketing machine”.  He seems do this as way to unfairly question and cast doubt on Dr. Romanov’s integrity and intentions. First of all, there is no “Pose marketing machine”. Pose Tech is a small family run business consisting of Dr. Romanov , his wife, one of his sons, and his daughter.  And to be completely honest, the marketing they do is very limited, and, in my opinion, has not been very effective. 
My Critique of the Study Mentioned in the Book -


  1. Just read 4hour body and had much the same feelings as yourself on tim's views on Pose. But I felt he was generally in favour of Pose.

  2. Hi Chris,

    I agree with you. I was just disappointed in the quality of the information in that chapter.