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Which Method Should I Use To Learn Better Running Form?

Posted by on May 7, 2012 | 4 Comments

A few days ago, I wrote about the progression of information a runner should use to learn better form. The next question is related:

What method should you use to learn better running form?

There are a ton of methods out there that can teach good form. ALL of the following will help you reach the same goal- better running form. Each method uses different teaching techniques. Some are simple. Some complex. Some use analogies. Some use scientific principles. Some can be done in a matter of seconds. Others may take years.

While many will argue about the merits of one method over another, I’m taking a different approach. You should choose your method based on your preferred style of leaning. Here are a handful of methods:

  • Pose- Developed by Dr. Nick Romanov, Pose is a fairly technical method that is best taught with a qualified coach. I incorporated some Pose methodology when I learned to run with better form. Check out Dr. Romanov’s book here.
  • ChiRunning- Developed by Danny Dryer, ChiRunning is an easier-to-learn method than Pose, though a qualified ChiRuunning coach is helpful. ChiRunning also incorporates elements of tai chi, hence the name. I used ChiRunning before running barefoot and still use a few of Dryer’s analogies. Check out Dryer’s book here.
  • Ken Bob Saxton- Ken Bob has been the most visible barefoot running advocate in the world over the last two decades. I learned most of my techniques from Ken Bob’s writings from his website, and my own teaching methods are heavily influenced by his own methods. Ken Bob has a knack for making difficult concepts easy to understand. Check out his book here.
  • Michael Sandler- Sandler, along with his wife Jessica, have been traveling the country teaching about barefoot running for a number of years. Sandler uses more of a “connecting to the earth” methodology, which is appealing to many. Check out his book here.
  • Ted MacDonald- Ted’s methods were also one of early influences. Ted also uses simple explanations to make better running form approachable. As of right now, he does mostly coaching. You can learn more about his services here.
  • Evolution Running- Evolution Running is a simple method to learn better form that takes the complexity of methods like Pose and boils them down to easy-to-execute steps. The DVD is better than the book.
  • Good Form- Good Form running is a method developed by my friends at Playmakers running store in Michigan, and is now taught by New Balance in clinics around the U.S.  Good Form dramatically simplifies the process of better running form, which makes the method exceedingly approachable. Learn about Good Form here.
  • BareForm- BareForm is the method I helped develop in conjunction with Merrell. Our motivation was to create a very simple method that would be easy to teach and share. This is the method I teach in the “beginner” clinics we conduct around the country. Learn more about the method here.
  • My methods- I would recommend people learn about BareForm first, then graduate to my more advanced methods found in my book. I tap into my experience as a high school teacher to explain the ins and outs of barefoot and minimalist shoe running in an easy-to-understand approachable way. The soon-to-be-discontinued second edition of my book is available here, while the updated third edition is available for pre-order here.

This is far from a complete list; it just happens to be a list of the methods I’m familiar with. There are other methods can can be effective. When choosing, do some research on each of the above methods and pick the one that feels like the best match.

Some may ask why I’m promoting all these other methods over my own… the answer is simple. Helping people run better can change their lives, and my methods won’t appeal to everyone. If I can help those people by giving them alternative methods, the world will be a better place. Besides, all the other folks are pretty cool cats and I’m happy to support their endeavors. This is a team effort.  ;-)

Good luck!

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4 Comments

  1. Leon Boone
    May 12, 2012

    I have gone to a couple of clinics and the running form that I have stuck with is good form running. I was very simple to get the concepts and easy to implement them. I have been doing it for a couple of years now and have never had any problems.

  2. Jimmy N.
    May 9, 2012

    I’ve read Barefoot Ken Bob’s book and Michael Sandler’s book and would recommend them both. While there are a ton of commonalities between the two, I was also intrigued by the differences. For example, Sandler recommends you begin the transition by walking/running on hard, smooth surfaces such as a sidewalk so that you can learn to feel the ground across a consistent surface. Saxton recommends starting on rough gravel so that you will be forced to land softly. Two very different approaches to accomplish what is ultimately the same goal.

    As you say, there are many styles out there and everyone should choose what fits them best.

  3. David Propst
    May 7, 2012

    Jason, Thanks. I’m going to a Chi Clinic with my wife this Saturday. We met you in Shepherdstown last fall at your Friday clinic, she was the non-runner who had better BF form than me :-). She is still toying with the idea of running but maybe since I do run she still thinks she needs coaching to get started. “Take off shoes, run, repeat” just sounds too simple. Pete Larson wrote at some point that he thought Chi would be a good method for his wife who really does not care about form, foot strike, etc. She just wants to run for fun and be injury free. Sometimes enshrouding a method into a philosophy gives it legitimacy with some folks. I’m hoping Saturday will be the spark she is looking for. I’m cautious it will mess with my form, but I think it will be fun.

    ~David

  4. Bare Lee
    May 7, 2012

    Nice use of Adam’s recent thread over at BRS! I was hoping someone would do a side-by-side comparison, and you’re just the man to do it!