There is no question that we need to know how to run slow, because it is the biggest part of our exercise, no matter what we are training for: racing or health improvement. But from my own experience I found out that paradoxically, it is difficult to run slow with a perfect technique. I found out that a slow run creates mechanical and psychological difficulties of executing the major components of the Pose Method of Running. And as a consequence, it could create anatomical and physiological discomfort and even lead to injuries. So what are the difficulties of slow running? It is really a paradox, because a seemingly easy thing suddenly becomes a problem. So what is the problem with a slow run and how can we solve it? What we have to understand is the proper execution of the three main elements of the Pose running and how to make a slow run comfortable and efficient.
As we know running speed is related to stride length and stride frequency, and thus with the amount of our efforts and range of motion. This is a seemingly simple vision or picture of running technique. So a slow run is supposed to involve shorter stride length, lower stride frequency and less effort. And exactly this is the most difficult part of performing a slow run.
Why is that? Simply because of our common sense which creates a strange conflict between stride length and range of motion, and stride frequency and efforts. From a common sense point of view, any reduction or increase in stride frequency is related with efforts. Any increase or decrease in stride length and range of motion is related with efforts, as well. We are generally talking about deeply ingrained habits of running technique that we call our comfort zone or speed of running. Slow run falls out of this comfort zone or our habits.
The second we try to reduce our stride length, efforts and/or stride frequency, we get into conflict with our habits, because we depart from what we perceive as our comfort zone. It is basically about changing our perception. What is a comfortable temperature, what is comfortable food, what is a comfortable driving speed? We have so many ingrained things which we call comfort zone that we even couldn't notice it for ourselves that we live inside this framework. But getting outside this framework without losing our perception of comfort is exactly the meaning of skill. How do we do this in the Pose Method? Since the beginning, the Pose Method was designed to avoid these kinds of problems by putting no emphasis on either stride length or range of motion, or efforts.
The main premise of the Pose Method is falling and pulling, where the fall is utilizing gravity which recruits muscle efforts and develop speed and range of motion. Basically the range of motion is a consequence of speed. Range of motion in the Pose Method is understood as the vertical distance between the foot on support and the foot under the hip. Range of motion is not about a horizontal spreading out of the legs, but about the vertical foot movement. The action to perform a pull is only an effort to break contact of the foot with the ground. The rest of the movement of the foot happens by momentum and reactive and elastic forces.
So how do we run slow or slower in the Pose Method? First of all, we are using less gravity which means that we have to lean forward much less than at our comfortable speed. Second, as a consequence of this, we are supposed to recruit much less effort to pull and produce much less range of motion, with a continuous level of cadence and stride frequency. And this is the conflicting point. How do we maintain high frequency around 180 with much less falling and as a consequence, much lower speed? It comes to the point that we have to learn to fall a very small amount and as a consequence, reduce all our efforts. So how much gravity are we utilizing? We have to learn a perception of keeping the feet under the body at all times and not moving them too high vertically or too far backward or forward and in general establish a new rhythm of falling. How do we perceive this proper rhythm? It's very simple: by having no more pressure on the foot than when you are standing. If you perceive more pressure on your forefoot than usual, you are staying on your foot too long. You have to follow the weightless perception guidance and feel no pressure increase on the forefoot.
So slow running should not increase your efforts but reduce them.