This past weekend I had the good fortune of spending time at CrossFit Roots in Boulder Colorado. I was there with Brian MacKenzie and Bryan Diaz teaching the CrossFit Endurance Running Seminar. During the seminar I was asked numerous times the following questions:
1. How often should I do the running drills.
2. For how long should I do the drills.
3. And is there a point where the need to do the drills ends.
These are all very good questions and they reminded of an article that Dr. Romanov wrote several years back. titled; “TO DRILL OR NOT TO DRILL.” Below you’ll find his article with a few add-ons from me.
To drill or not not to drill? An interesting question, isn’t it? On the one hand, as we all know, everyone who learns something does so through some type of drill or drills – in swimming, tennis, snatch, Clean and Jerk, golf, etc. On the other hand, it is boring stuff, especially in running, where our common sense doesn’t even speak of drilling at all. In running we just run, and now we have this new fashion – Pose drills. Is it really so necessary to go through the “trouble”? And if there’s no way we can do without it, then what’s the minimum we have to do?
The problem starts with the fact that the average runner doesn’t consider running as a skill. Worst yet when you make some comparisons, with ballet, for example, where drilling/rehearsal is a necessity from the first step to the last, as it was mentioned by one of the greatest Russian ballerinas, Maya Plisetzkaya. For most people, ballet is in a different category of events. It is an art! Well folks, so is running. As a coach, my most difficult task is to get someone to change their perception. In the case of running it is changing the runners perception on what running is and to have the athlete look at running a completely different way.
Now I understand that you will need some time and effort to change your mind to a new look at running. It is our perception that allows us to see things, which does not exist, before we start seeing them.
What is the role of drills in general, for anything we try to learn? First of all, they simplify and dissect the learning object into parts, which we can see, feel, perceive and perform. The goal of this process is to develop our perception of things, which we couldn’t perceive in any other way. It is not about muscle strength, endurance, speed, agility, etc. It is about our perception.
What do we need to perceive in running? It is the body weight, its location and transfer (movement) from one point to another. All three elements of the Pose Method: Pose-Fall-Pull, are part of this perception. The body weight appears, when we have support on the ground, and this is the Running Pose, where body weight is located on the ball of the foot. The perception of the body weight at this position is extremely important because only from this position can we start falling (leaning) forward.
Doing Pose drills is developing our perception of holding (keeping) and transferring (moving) the body weight from one foot to the other. So we have to feel precisely the body weight location and changing it, as well. So when we are doing the Pony drill, our focus on these things -location of the body weight and transfer should be very strong and consistent. It should be developed to the level of skill, as if it were in a snatch, shooting, or ballet.
How many, what kind of drills and to which level do we need to go? Minimum drills are about just covering the perception of Pose-Fall-Pull before each training session and after running. Before the session, it is necessary to refresh the perception, and after it to recover it, especially after a long or intensive run. How many is a question about perception as well. Our goal is to develop a very specific perception, so the quantity of drills should be as many as it is necessary to get this perception.
One important notice, our perception is not what we can put inside us as in storage. It is a “fluid” substance, in terms of maintaining and developing it. Like anything else, we can develop and then lose it, nothing is constant and forever (only “diamonds are forever”). So considering this fact a reality, we have to understand that while we are developing our perception by doing drills, we need to use the same drills to maintain an existing level of perception, and then recover it, when we are losing this. As you see, there isn’t a time when we can completely drop our drills and say good bye to them. Just to make this a bit simpler, find what your weaknesses are and focus on your weaknesses while keeping your other skills on the same level.
The last advice, try to change your perception of drills from something dull and obligatory to something interesting and fun. This will help you to rediscover yourself, perfecting your understanding and performance of “simple” running.
Contents for this article was taken from Dr.Romanov’s article: To drill or not drill.