POSE IN PRESS A collection of articles about Pose Method and Dr.Romanov in various publications.
FLORIDA SPORTS (US)
Vol.10, No.6 · July/August 1996
From Russia with love... of running
by Jim Woodman
What could be easier than running just put one foot in front of the other and move faster than walking and, well, you're running.
Sounds easy enough, right?
Not according to Nicholas Romanov, an exiled Russian track coach living in Coral Gables.
“It hurts me to see the way people run,” says the 45-year-old coach in broken English. “Nobody ever teaches anybody how to run. I can tell you what injuries certain people will have just by watching them run.”
And when you really think about it, Romanov is right. Do you remember your parents teaching you the technique of running? Of course not, you just went out and started chasing your brother or sister around as fast as you could with no thought as to how you were moving your legs or landing on your feet.
Consider this amazing statistic: Only 2.5 children out of 1,000 run with proper technique naturally. Better said, over 99% of the population needs to be taught to run correctly.
You hear the horror stories of running injuries over and over. The pounding, the joints, ligaments, tendons and muscles all giving way – most often to improper technique.
“I can not train at all and go out and finish a 20K comfortably and not be sore at all the next day,” claims Romanov. “This is only because of technique. By running properly you don't get sore or injured.”
As a doctor of physical education in Moscow and University Coach from 1976 to 1993, Romanov trained some of Russia's most promising athletes. Though him and his wife, Svetlana, enjoyed the status of prestigious jobs, their $8 a month salary and struggles in a dying economy turned them sour on Russian politics and life.
“There were days when all we had to eat was bread and tea,” recalls Svetlana. “We couldn't buy anything else. We were teachers for 20 years and this is how we lived.”
When Romanov's eldest daughter chose to marry an American businessman, Nicholas and his wife and four children made the long trek to Ft. Lauderdale for the wedding.
Having arrived with wedding party clothing and “things for the beach,” their one month vacation was extended and before they knew it, talk was of never going back.
“It's very sad because we had very good friends, very good jobs. We both loved our jobs. But we couldn't guarantee a good future for our children,” says Romanov. “America offered hope.”
It was Romanov's son-in-law, Sherwin Drobner, a retired lawyer of Russian descent, that paved the way for the Romanov's exile. Drobner convinced Nicholas he could find work training athletes in this country.
One of the first athletes he met and formed a bond with was Cyle Sage, 31, a professional triathlete living in Gainesville. Sage's collegiate swimming background and strong cycling ability always put him in contention until the run. Like most swimmers, running was Sage's Achilles heel.
After five months working with Romanov, at a minimal twice a month, Sage shaved over three minutes off his best 10K, from 36:40 to 33:20 and 11 minutes for his half marathon, down to 1:21. Today Sage is running 15:58 for 5K, amazing for a swimmer who could never muscle his way under 17:30 just a couple of years ago.
“Running had always been the thing holding me back in triathlons,” says Sage, who led the Hawaii Ironman out to Hawaii and the Gulf Coast Triathlon to the seven mile mark of the run, only to be passed by the sport's better runners. “Working with Nicholas has finally flicked that light on in my head and I can't believe that I used to run the way I did.”
Phil Wolman and Lynn McFadden working on style with Romanov
While the biomechanics of running may seem daunting, Romanov has a natural way of explaining it simply. “Take a look at dogs and cats,” he says. “Notice how their legs are always bent in an “S”shape ... they also don't have heels. It helps to learn how to run efficiently if you watch how animals run. Their center of gravity is always over their legs. You should never straighten your legs.”
Nicholas goes on to explain that there's no reason to ever land on your heels while running. Not only does landing on your heels create a pause in motion, but it's actually much more difficult on your muscles, especially the quadriceps. “If your legs are landing in front of you, that means you have to wait for your body to catch up before your foot can leave the ground,” explains Romanov. “The idea is to try and keep your feet landing below your center of gravity and keeping the contact on the ground to just a tap.”
Sage says he tries to picture him-self running over candles that he needs to quickly put out with his feet before getting burned. “Whenever I feel I'm losing my form, I just think of those candles underneath me and it really helps,” says Sage. “I find that if I keep my form at the end of a long race, especially when I'm really hurting, I can stay fast.”
Mike Bagnell, 32, a South Miami chiropractor, has been amazed at the difference Romanov has made in his running and his approach to running. Bagnell competes in track and field's decathlon and never used to feel comfortable with his running. “Before when I use to run I used to think the stronger I got the more it would benefit my style. But I never felt I got in the zone. Since working with Nicholas, the amount of stress has diminished 95 percent and I feel that zone.”
In less than a year of working with Nicholas, Bagnell has seen his sprint times drop from a second to four seconds in events ranging from 100 to 800 meters. “It's so much more of a joy to run now,” adds Bagnell. “Of all the running injuries I see in my office, I'm convinced over 90% could be avoided if people just ran with the proper technique.”
Another unique approach of Romanov's is to prepare the joints, instead of just the muscles before running. “He's got some really neat exercises for your feet, ankles, knees and hips,” continues Bagnell. “When you warm up with his exercises it creates a much more connective feeling to running. You feel like your whole body is running instead of just your legs.”
At the recent Sunshine State Games in Ft. Lauderdale June 15th, Bagnell took four first places and one third place in track and field events. “I honestly could never do as well as I’m doing without him,” Bagnell continues. “He's an amazing coach.”
Lynn McFadden works on stretching with Romanov
Another Romanov convert is local runner Lynn McFadden, 39, who’s run competitively for 15 years and boasts a resume that includes overall wins at the Office Depot Corporate Run and numerous local road races as well as many sprint triathlons. She even qualified for the United States national triathlon team a few years back. But constant running injuries kept McFadden on the sidelines more often than not.
“When I first met him I was so impressed with his knowledge of how the body functions,” says Lynn. “I had been plagued by all kinds of lower leg problems ... plantar fasciatis, Achilles problems and sore calves. In our first session, through a series of strength tests and analyzing my running form, he was able to hone in on the fact that my anterior tibialis was underdeveloped.”
“We reestablished the balance in my muscles through strength exercises and altered my running technique and I haven't had an injury since,” adds McFadden who's been seeing Romanov since January. “He brings you exercises from ballet, martial arts and yoga to help you as a runner. Before you would have to go to all sorts of yoga or stretching classes to do the things he's taught me. But who has that kind of time? Now I can do these things with out having to go to a yoga class.”
And judging from all Romanov's students and athletes, it's that gift of being able to bring the whole body together in harmony and balance that makes his methods so popular and effective. “He's brought new insight into my outlook on running and fitness in general because of his approach to getting the body to work as a whole system,” continues McFadden. “I'm totally convinced that when I put myself back into racing soon, I'll be breaking all my PRs at the age of 40. 1 just feel I go faster with a lot less effort.”
Even though running is Romanov's first love, his holistic approach to overall fitness has garnered him quite a following for those looking for a unique approach to health and exercise. “I met Nicholas through a personal trainer friend of mine and we hit it off front the first time we met,” says Phil Wolman, 50, president of For Eyes Optical, a national chain of retail eyewear stores. “His unique approach to training has helped me get into the best shape I've been in for years. It's obvious he really knows what he's talking about. I see him almost every day I'm in town.”
“I've been, able to get much stronger without using weights,” adds Wolman, who's been working with Romanov for almost two years. “I was borderline high blood pressure when I used to work out with another trainer. Nicholas gives me pointers on nutrition and other things to do when I'm not exercising. My blood pressure is down and I haven't felt this good in a long time.”
Asides from his busy schedule of training runners and clients, Romanov, along with Sage, have been heavily involved in coaching junior triathletes from Tri-Fed USA's junior development program. Last year, at the Triathlon World Championships in Cancun, Mexico, Romanov's juniors showed greater improvements than another group of separately coached American juniors.
“I've read some of his materials on his POSE method of running and it makes a lot of sense biomechanically,” says George Dallam, a Ph.D. in exercise physiology and national team coach for Tri Fed USA in Colorado Springs. “I'm very interested in learning more about it and applying the techniques to some of our athletes.”
Locally Romanov Helped Lisbeth Olsen, a local triathlete by way of Norway who lived in Key Biscayne for the last Six years until moving to Kentucky just this year. Under Romanov, Olsen improved from being an above average local age group triathlete to making the U.S. national team and finishing sixth amateur at the 1995 world championships in Cancun.
“During my first three years of competing in triathlons, I got the reputation for always being among the top women until the start of the run,” says OIsen. “Because of my inefficient biomechanics, I'd always feel exhausted during the run and, sure enough, get caught by other women by the end of the race. In working with Nicholas over the past year, he's altered my technique and improved my muscle elasticity to the point where I no longer have problems with shin splints and plantar fasciatis. Now instead of fearing the run at the end of a triathlon, I look forward to it.”
It's hard to believe that in so short a time in the United States, Romanov has made such an impact on so many athletes. Some of these athletes don't even care they don't live in Florida. He trains athletes all over America, including Colorado, Kentucky, Gainesville and Longwood, Fla. Outside the U.S. he stays in contact with Puerto Rico, Brazil and Norway. When asked how he handles keeping up with all these athletes and their workouts, Nicholas smiles that warm smile that puts so many at ease and replies simply in his heavy Russian accent: “I have fax machine.”
Only downside to his American exile just three short years ago, is the realization that the politics of Anierican running and athletics are not too different than in Russia. Already certain U.S. coaches, possibly feeling intimidated, have tried to keep him form attending national forums on triathlon training because they claim his methods are too controversial.
“When I first got here I liked how people accept my ideas in America,” adds Romanov. “I don't know why some coaches don't want to talk to me. It makes me sad. I would very much like to see how I can develop myself here in the United States. I would like to write books and do a video. In Russia this would be impossible.”
Romanov is already talking with a book publisher about bringing his ideas to the masses. One day, he’d like to have his own sports institute to teach lots of athletes in a very professional manner. “It's funny,” adds McFadden. “People always think that running has to be so complicated. But the way Nicholas explains it, you really understand. I only wish I would have met him years ago.”
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