Saturday, October 13, 2012

Trickle-Down or Bubble-Up - Different Perspectives on Technique Improvement

It occurred to me recently, that the mindset of Pose training compared to other running techniques is completely different. Pose has a very precise standard, and that standard is meant to represent optimal running technique. All of other running techniques I've studied only offer a set of guidelines. Let me be clear, I'm simply addressing the difference in mindset between these two approaches. I'm not discussing the nuances of running technique, or making arguments about which technique is better or worse. My sole point is that the focus of Pose is optimization, and the focus of other methods is achieving a technique that is "good enough" quickly and with minimal effort.

When I started teaching Pose, I was shocked to find that most people who came to me simply wanted to improve their technique, and were willing to put almost no real effort into achieving this goal. Now I suspect this is one reason why so many other running techniques and methods have apparently gained much larger followings than Pose.

It's not surprising that Dr. Romanov has developed a method that approaches running technique from the point of view of optimization. He is an Olympic level track and field coach. At that level of competition, optimization is critical.  Clearly optimization is the ideal approach for highly competitive runner. However, most runners are not highly competitive, nor are they generally very interested in optimizing their technique. Of the few who are, most lose interest when they realize the effort required. In other words, most people lack the commitment to do what is necessary to achieve optimization, or anything close to it. 

What are the advantages of the "good enough" approach? Well, they are generally easier to learn, they offer the (probably unrealistic) possibility of an easy shortcut to obtaining good technique, and they also offer the comforting philosophical perspective that we are all unique as individuals, and, because of this, there is no one optimal running technique for everyone. Americans, in particular, eat that kind of ideology up, even when it is clearly wrong.

So my observation is that Pose offers an elite trickle-down approach to technique improvement, and other methods offer a populist bubble-up approach. Which has more to offer and to whom? I don't know exactly, but I will probably discuss this more in upcoming posts.


  1. It is a good article. I'm CFE Level 1 coach, and I've noticed that in our athletes: They're not willing to do drills and follow a 6 weeks progression plan.

    In my short personal experience, I learned Pose(I'm still learning) by myself, and now I'm pretty sure one have to be trully comitted to change and to optimize the running technique.

    Greetings from Chile.

    Pablo Medina

    1. Pablo,

      I agree completely. Optimization takes commitment, and very few people will make that commitment.