Written by: Victoria Parker
I’d like to think of myself as a relatively savvy mover; in school, track and field was my bread and butter, and I was never one to shy away from a long jog every now and then. I’d tie up my cushioned running shoes, hop onto the pavement, and run until my shins ached. That’s how running is, isn’t it? Aren’t you doing it wrong if it doesn’t hurt every joint in your body?
After attending an enlightening seminar with Head Coach Paul DeAngelis, I’ve learned that this is most definitely NOT the case.
I entered the Academy of Lions early on a Saturday wide-eyed and ready to be a fitness knowledge sponge. Right after placing our things down, Paul sprang up and urged us to get ready to move. Outside. Right now. So out we went, rounding the side of the building, lining up on the far end of a colourful alleyway at Paul’s request. Each of us took a turn running past him while he had his phone out in front, filming. I was immediately self conscious, thinking to myself “Alright Victoria, just pretend you know what you’re doing.” I ended up out of breath by the second round.
After the filming had finished, we filed in and took a seat. It was time to learn how movement SHOULD be. Paul opened up the seminar by asking us to think of the best runners in the world. Who were they? How did they achieve the fastest running times in human history? Paul had spent hours and hours pouring over the technique of each of them, and spent the morning explaining how it was done. It turns out the answer is gravity! The runners were falling in order to accelerate without using up muscle power! Sounds easy enough to emanate, right? Turns out, each of us had quite a few years of incorrect programming to undo. Which is definitely NOT easy. After watching our videos and pointing out exactly what needed to be fixed, the group was revved up and ready to go.
So to begin the undoing process, we spent the remainder of the day running through a gamut of drills and exercises, pairing each one with an explanation of how it will help our running technique. This is what’s known as the POSE method. With a cadence beeper prompting us to hop at 180 steps per minute, we ran back and fourth, focusing on 3 things: Pose (assuming proper running position), Fall (getting comfortable falling out of that position), and Pull (switching feet quickly, and pulling back into the running position). The day finished with a 12 minute Cross Fit circuit, with a section dedicated exclusively to working on our POSE running. Needless to say, I was EXHAUSTED, but inspired.
Day 2 was FULL of movement! The morning was spent discussing injury prevention, and introducing the class to a host of exercises to help relax muscles, and build strength. At one point, we had to massage our “fascia” (that’s the connective tissue around muscles) using a lacrosse ball. “Sure” I thought, “This won’t be a big deal. My muscles feel fine.” They were so NOT FINE! Paul explained that this was an often neglected practice, but is totally necessary to increase flexibility. And it was true! After running the ball over our feet and calf muscles, every single participant was able to touch the floor from a standing position. Who knew!
After a brief run though of nutritional information, and the revelation that my cushioned running shoes were doing more harm than good, we got right back to running drills. One in particular was especially fun. And scary. But mostly fun. Each of us found a partner, and were asked to gather on one side of the room. Our partner held our hand, and guided us to the other side, while we ran with our eyes closed. This was to encourage “falling”. Bizarre? Maybe. But the improvement in our technique was absolutely undeniable.
Eventually, we made it back outside for a final run around. It was time to get a second film to see how we improved!
And did we ever improve. Even though it had only technically been a day and a half, EVERYONE was running better, running faster, and running efficiently. Paul did mention that the best results would take 6 weeks or so of consistency, but that these small improvements were paving the way for the bigger ones.
Needless to say, I’ve got a brand new pair of light-weight shoes, and am ready to start the retraining process. The CrossFit Endurance seminar was educational, motivational, and inspirational all in one!