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Burning Runner: Fixing My Form To Avoid Injury

  • By Mario Fraioli
  • Published Jan. 24, 2011
  • Updated Feb. 1, 2013 at 9:04 AM UTC
Runners perform various drills at a technique clinic hosted by ultrarunner Brian MacKenzie last weekend in San Francisco.

Ultrarunner and Crossfit Endurance founder Brian MacKenzie gives a seminar on the importance of running form last weekend in San Francisco.

In 25 years of running, T.J. Murphy never paid much attention to his technique. Until now.

Written by: TJ Murphy

Last weekend I attended a running clinic held at San Francisco Crossfit. Brian MacKenzie, founder of Crossfit Endurance and an ultramarathoner, taught the clinic. MacKenzie’s foremost goal in his Run and Performance seminar is providing background and instruction on how to develop running technique—a subject that got tremendous traction in Christopher McDougal’s bestseller, “Born to Run.”

My personal history with running form and technique: 25 years of not worrying about it. On occasion I would do a few drills I picked up, like bounding and high-knee skips, but the hard fact is I never gave it much thought and went with the line of thinking that by running lots of miles my form and stride would evolve naturally in the direction of efficiency.

But for sure I’m one of the reasons statistics have shown that most runners suffer through a consistent string of injuries. I’ve always been either injured or on the edge of being injured. MacKenzie spent years studying and teaching Dr. Nicholas Romanov’s “Pose Method,” which, as McDougal cited in “Born to Run,” is one of several approaches (like Chi Running and Evolution Running) that declare giving attention to how you run will engender greater performance and lessen the risk of overuse injuries.

As I’ve reported previously, the injury that shut down my training in November and sent me on a six-week spree of pain-filled limping had me thinking I might be cooked for good. McDougal asked similar questions in “Born to Run” as he detailed his battles with injuries. For me at least, after years of ramming into the same problems, my mind was open to new possibilities. I’d heard of the Pose Method for years but never really looked into it. In the preface of Dr. Romanov’s book, “Pose Method of Running,” he suggests that you bought the book for one of four reasons:

  1. You want to run faster.
  2. You want to avoid injury.
  3. You want to lose weight.
  4. Someone who had no clue what to give the runner in his or her life gave it to you.

In my case it’s the first two reasons, both offered to me by MacKenzie and Kelly Starrett—that digging into the Pose Method and paying serious attention to movement, mobility and strength can help me distance me from injury and enjoy running again. And both have said that I will be surprised at the potential for increased performance when I get on top of this.

To be honest, I’ve turned a closed mind to almost any idea that falls outside the boundaries of the traditional training practices that allowed me, some years ago, to run a sub 33-minute 10k. Now after acquainting myself with MacKenzie’s Crossfit Endurance program and the Pose Method, I’m curious as to why, after a decade of constant injury, I was so dead-set against new ideas.

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Mario Fraioli

Mario Fraioli

Mario Fraioli is a senior editor at Competitor magazine. A cross-country All-American at Stonehill College in 2003, he now coaches the Prado Women's Racing Team in San Diego and was the men's marathon coach for Costa Rica's 2012 Olympic team. His first book, The Official Rock 'n' Roll Guide To Marathon & Half-Marathon Training (VeloPress, 2013) is available in bookstores, running shops and online.

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