Anyone following me or The Running Lab will know that I seek to reduce our dependence on orthotics and modern running shoes by focusing on posture, strength and efficiency.
I was recently interviewed by The Hundy Journal Vol. 1. Here is an extract of the interview as published in this blog post at Hundy Apparel.
The purpose of The Running Lab is to make running less scary, less hated and less difficult. Why do you think CrossFitters hate running so much?
Running is not a sexy movement like a muscle up or snatch. It is more of a chore and an uncomfortable grind that gets in the way of the fun movements. Think about the relentless chase of your first muscle up.. Or finally nailing double unders consistently. Time and effort is invested heavily in these movements. Very few crossfitters invest time learning HOW to run. Running well does not involve simply running more in the same way endless squatting with poor technique does not help you squat better. Any gains with poor technique will be destroyed by niggles and injuries from moving poorly.
You just completed the Open barefoot, why did you do that?
Small disclaimer.. despite leading the 2016 Barefoot Open Leaderboard (of which I may have been the only competitor entered), I finished with a disqualification on 16.4. The rower made me dust off my Metcons and incarcerate my feet so my heels would not slip out of the stirrups.
That small detail aside, I move and lift better without shoes on. I have spent years experimenting with my feet.. taking them from orthotic wearing slaves to Performance Enhancing Springs. The strength, stability and elastic spring I have trained in my feet make squatting, deadlifting and lifting more stable, and double unders, jumping and running more efficient without the interference of shoes.
We saw you worked with Khan and Ben in 2015, what did you change about their running techniques?
Running is no different to any other Crossfit movement. It is a skill. And when the skill is broken down into drills to train efficient movement patterns, running performance goes through the roof.
For running, I teach that every step is a repetition. As such, there is exponentially more repetitions of running at the Crossfit Games than any other movement. Not all events will be won on the run component of a WOD but they certainly can be lost with poor technique that taxes your muscles and energy systems to the detriment of the other movements in the event.
With Khan and Ben, I worked on making each step.. each repetition.. as light and effortless as possible. When repeated thousands of times, even a twenty percent per step improvement in running efficiency adds up to a huge performance gain.
I also taught the boys how to run in different scenarios. In the world of Crossfit there are times to push hard in a run, using your strong technique to attack the WOD.. But other times when energy conservation and complete heart rate control is needed to perform well. To coach this, I used a comparison between the workouts Nancy and Murph. In Nancy, attacking the 400m efforts should be the aim of the game. The 95 pound overhead squats will not cripple elite Crossfit athletes like Ben and Khan, so moving powerfully through each run is the key to performing well in Nancy. However, attacking the brutal one mile efforts of Murph will crush anybody whose name does not begin with Sam and end with Briggs. Running in Murph is about each of the running repetitions (upwards of 3,500 steps) being smooth, light and efficient, maintaining good posture from the first step to the last.
As luck would have it, Murph was announced as one of the events at the Games. I sent Ben and Khan a message to remind them how to tackle the runs. Ben, not known for his love of long, grinding workouts, was genuinely excited to tackle Murph. This headspace, along with him soaking up 100% of what I shared with him in our sessions, saw Ben finish 9th. This amazing result reinforced my work in teaching running as a skill that, when broken down and trained, is not as ugly and horrible as many think.
What’s the difference between running on the road and on the trueform? Does the Trueform favour any type of athlete?
You cannot hide from inefficient technique when running on a Trueform treadmill. There is a small sweet spot on the treadmill belt that you want your foot to contact in order to keep it moving efficiently. If you overstride, which is extremely common among runners, your foot will land in front of this sweet spot and the Trueform will destroy you.
The Trueform does not favour a “type” of athlete.. It rewards efficient movement. It also helps if you have spent some time becoming comfortable on the machine.
Why do nearly all podiatrists recommend orthotics and you throw them in the bin?
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