Burning Runner: Patience With The Pose Method

T.J. is giving his body time to adapt to the new stresses being placed upon it.

Running form be careful.
T.J. is exercising patience as he transitions to a new Pose-style running technique focusing on light, quick steps off the ball of the foot.

T.J. is giving his body time to adapt to the new stresses being placed upon it.

Written by: T.J. Murphy

If you’ve read “Born to Run,” or have been inspired by a barefoot runner and want to learn how to run with light, quick steps off the ball of the foot (as opposed to thundering heel strikes that put a huge burden of sheer on the knee) and have decided to transition to a technique like Dr. Nicholas Romanov’s “Pose Method,” there is one piece of advice the likes of Brian MacKenzie will give you: Know that it’s going to take some patience as you adapt the tissues to the different stresses of a new foot strike.

As Timothy Ferriss notes in his new book, “The 4-Hour Body,” he adds a note of caution to runners adventuring into Romanov’s world with a sidebar on page 385. “The Pose Method isn’t all rainbows and kittens.” He mentions that a 2004 study on the Pose showed “reduced eccentric loading of the knee,” but failed to mention that two weeks of Pose drills and runs increased the load on the ankles. Ferriss goes on to say that a PhD and Pose instructor conducted a follow-up study on newcomers to the method, in large numbers, encountered problems with the Achilles tendon and calf muscles.

“The moral of the story?” Ferris writes, “Take it slow. Make changing your running a gradual program and stop if it hurts.”

MacKenzie told me that one of the strongest clues as to whether a runner lands on the ball of his or her foot or on the heel is the development he sees in the calves and the thickness of the Achilles tendon.

In my case, Brian had me back off from the Pose drills a bit after my Achilles felt touchy, and has me spending time focusing on mobility and tissue work in the foot (downstream) and the calf (upstream). This is why he has me doing the drills only two times per week—giving my body time to adapt to the new stress. Conditioning is maintained through Crossfit training.

In the video he posted last week at, MacKenzie goes through the physics of what a runner transitioning to the Pose encounters and also showed me a few ways to loosen up the tissues putting stress on the heel.


T.J. Murphy is the Editorial Director of Competitor Magazine. A 2:38 marathoner and five-time Ironman finisher, he is the former editorial director of Triathlete Magazine and Inside Triathlon. His writing has also appeared in Outside Magazine and Runner’s World.