Category Archives: Running

Available on Amazon Kindle now!

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Here it is, folks!

After hours, weeks and days of translation work, practical application, field testing on myself, peers and clients, the release of the first book of The Natural Method trilogy is here for you to download for the whopping price of $1.99! A bargain basement price if you consider the cost of the original work and the slowly climbing prices of vintage fitness books.

Just like with any method or system, it is important to understand it, assimilate it and even at times question it before going out and teaching it. I invite all readers to do so first by digesting the information and even apply existing knowledge to it. After all, while the exercises themselves are not new, be it for familiarity of execution and alternative warm-up drills (all of which will be covered in the second book due in January 2015), the layout, organization, sequence of training and intensity management of exercises outlined in this first installment are of benefit to all in the fitness industry.

Group ex, one-on-one, novice to expert, scoring and measuring tools, it’s all here today, courtesy of one of the pillars of our fitness History.

Get it now for less than a trip to your local name brand java joint!

 

Lesson model and order

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This is an excerpt from the book, Chapter IV. It charts the order of drills and explains the intensity variations for optimal performance within the session, from warm-up to cool down.

SECTIONEXERCISESGOALS AND BENEFITS
1
  1. Any kind of walking.
  2. Corrective exercises.
  3. Flexibility and mobility of the arms, leg and trunk.
Correcting mindset, warming up the body and general loosening up of the body (aesthetic benefits).
2
  1. Basic arm and leg movements, simple or combined, free hand or with gear.
  2. Lifting.
  3. Throwing.
  4. Combatives: boxing and wrestling.
General and symmetrical development of all the body parts. Joint flexibility (aesthetic benefits).Skill development and coordination in order to improve fighting, lifting and throwing abilities (functional benefits)
3
  1. Suspension/Hanging.
  2. Supported/Planks.
  3. Climbing variations.
  4. Balancing drills geared also at overcoming fear of heights/vertigo.
Specific development of the upper body, trunk and core musculature (aesthetic benefits). Sense of equilibrium, agility of all kinds for climbing or scaling (functional benefits).
4
  1. Hopping.
  2. Speed training.
  3. Short distance runs.
Intense action on the major systems of the body: cardiovascular and respiratory (hygienic benefits).Improvement in normal and work pacing (functional benefits).
5Trunk and core specificEmphasis on back, thoracic and abdominal musculature development (aesthetic benefits).
6
  1. Jumps of all kinds: with or without momentum, with hand support, on moving or fixed obstacles.
  2. Velocity/speed   and distance running (like in Section 4).
  3. Swimming.
  4. Games utilizing running, jumping, swimming, fighting actions etc…
Same benefits as in Section 4, but more intense.All the exercises in this section produce hygienic, aesthetic and functional benefits.
7
  1. Breath work.
  2. Marching/Walking.
Restore the cardiovascular and pulmonary systems.Breathing education.

 

 

 

Thus:

–       Exercises in Section 1 simply serve to warm-up and loosen up the body.

–       Exercises in Sections 4 and 6 on average require greater effort than those in Sections 1, 2 and 3.

–       Section 5 is positioned on purpose between two sections of more strenuous nature (jumping, running etc.) because the exercises in this section require little effort but provide the body with the necessary relaxation characterized by a lowering of the heart rate.

–       Finally, exercises in Section 7 are geared towards restoring the breath and lowering the heart rate before resting. They can be performed during the session when the taxing efforts of a particular exercise require restoration.

 

More fun needed!

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I recently experienced some of the most fun I’ve had in a long time. I went camping overnight with my 4-year old son Fletcher and one activity I had scheduled was to climb the sandhill on the Pacific Coast Highway, at Point Mugu. We hit that item on the checklist last on the trip, after Fletcher was already tired from the first part of the day and just wanted to get home. He had seen the hill the day before, but we weren’t able to cross that of our list due to some logistical issues.

Just check out the video, it’s under 30 seconds.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QO2XHzzjSVU&list=UUZpetXiNeU9ksNxTs5W_JLw&index=1

Now, tell me, do you remember the last time you had such fun running, falling, tumbling? The descent was the fun part, the reward, much like going uphill on a ski lift for 20 minutes only to get down the hill in 2 minutes. Did you notice the guy bear crawling his way up? My comment about “only 10 more” was to him. The reason he was bear crawling up is that standing is way harder a climb up the hill as your feet just dig deep in the sand from the steep angle (hard to appreciate on the video) and spreading your load makes you operate more on the surface of the sand. Not only that, it’s a great primal move. I had the pleasure to go up that way with 42lb of live “ruck” on my back for part of the climb.

My favorite part was that Fletcher never once complained, didn’t ask to stop and half way up, during a short break, he was yelling “Let’s go to the top, we almost dere!” His cup was half full, fo’ sho’!

I have been observing his natural development and affinities for outdoor activities. The kid is always doing some sort of Parkour or free running. He never just walks, he has to climb, jump on or off, run, ask me to race, hang etc. I admire his strength yet how supple his muscles are, how nimble, mobile and spry, with no fear. He knows his limits and pushes them, and when he’s not comfortable, he just will avoid danger. When stuck, he figures it out and I only help if there is no other way. He develops physical skills, spacial awareness and geometry. His fitness level? Through the roof. Do as he does for as long as he does it, I challenge anyone to not get a good workout out of it!

Of course, I can’t go on without referencing the Natural Method. In the below example, you can see an individual who naturally developed his physique by only participating in activities pertinent to his existence and survival. He is (was as this is over 100 years old) from a tribe in Africa still living a hunter gatherer nomadic existence for the most part. Most people would envy that physique, functional and aesthetically perfect at once.

Prime example back prime example front

While the first book, due in just about 4 weeks, revolves mostly around the exposé of the method, its History, background, how to conduct a model complete training session, how to lay out a training field, the kind of exercises to use to program the session, as well as ways to measure progress for individuals and groups alike, the Play portion doesn’t get fully explored until the 3rd book, due next Spring (book #2 is due in January 2015). So, until then, this little video is a reminder to go out and have more fun. Our time is limited, and if you feel you can’t catch up with a little 4-year old traceur, get the book and start laying out your own process. Your body is meant to do this, and your mind needs the reset more frequently than you think!

Training Field Layout

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The purpose of the Natural Method is to develop individuals to become well-rounded athletes with a minimal physical aptitude requirement. It is not about who can deadlift the most, complete a triathlon the fastest, win a bodybuilding contest or become the winner of the (insert sporting event here). Those are just “extras”, very specialized goals that extend beyond the basics of the Natural Method, and are encouraged as they can represent an individual’s interest(s). But, for the civic duty, the Noble Cause of being able to help self, peers and country, the method boils down to the main activities of walking/marching (rucking also), running (distance or speed), lifting (heavy objects), throwing (heavy objects, or light ones for target practice), climbing (rope, scaling, free, training to overcome fear of heights), jumping (high or far), rescuing, swimming and combative techniques like boxing or wrestling.

Training Field

The schematic to the left displays an ideal training area. This is from the original document, all in French, so allow me to translate each area for you. It is made up of a top strip (water area), a center field broken up into 4 quadrants and surrounded by a track, and a bottom strip, itself broken up. Please click on the image to expand it for clarity.

Upper left corner: Training area reserved for basic educational exercises, shadow boxing and simple games. The area is surrounded by 8 beams for suspension/off ground exercises.

The T-shaped shaded area is for the locker room. To its immediate right, connected, are 16 straight climbing ropes, using the building’s outer wall for the climbing drills. Right next to it is the boxing area (for actual sparring).
Below the “T” is a rectangle broken up into 8 areas, designated for wrestling.
To the right of the wrestling area are 8 more rudimentary bars for corrective, restorative exercises.

The upper right portion of the field is for jumping (top) climbing (center) and beams (bottom of upper right quadrant).

Separating the upper right and lower right quadrants is a 100-meter track for sprinting/speed training.

In the lower right quadrant are additional climbing and scaling, height training and rope climbing apparatuses.

Surrounding the 4 quadrants is a 500-meter circular track for endurance runs.

At the very bottom are 2 “strips” of training areas. The first one is an obstacle clearing area, with trees, walls etc. The bottom strip is divided into 3 areas: on the left, an area for weight lifting. Center: heavy objects throwing. Right: light objects throwing for target practice.

The very top strip is, in this example, a river used for swimming and water rescue drills.

From a personally opinionated standpoint, shared by many of my peers, people ought to focus on developing those minimal aptitude physical requirements before they should even concern themselves with vanity goals or other, and not fall prey to fitness marketing hype. The reality of every day modern life and its tasks tends to derail people into a form of specialty training that becomes a potential waste of their time, as the end goal, not being consistent with the reality of basic human performance and needs, is often abandoned. Don’t focus so much on losing the pounds, focus on doing the work and eating properly to become functionally fit (example chosen because of the most popular goal for people to get fit). Do it correctly, consistently, and you’ll get there!

Don’t forget to have fun!

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Dan John said “the goal is to keep the goal the goal”. There was a blog worth the read last week in which Coach Stevo expands on that concept.

I am not going to preach on the increasingly familiar, yet not new, rather quite ancient concept of not working out to work out, or to get through the work out but getting either nothing more out of it or not applying it for something else. The athlete trains in order to perform better at a given sport. Working out for health is great, but it’s not just about the numbers at the doctor’s office, or on the scale, or the poundage on the barbell. If it helps you do the fun stuff better, the social and moral stuff better (like helping your fellow human get up, lift a couch, defend against a bad guy…).

Yes, there is satisfaction in pressing that Beast, finally! But don’t forget you also like to go to the batting cages, play a few inning with your office league. Or, catching some big waves while the swell is hitting your local spot, before it fades. You gotta be ready for it when it hits so you can enjoy it better and longer. Or, your grandchildren are visiting and you need the energy to chase them. Whatever floats your boat. But, please, go find a boat. Otherwise, it’s work. It gets stale, you don’t want to do it, you can’t measure it with the things you like, just the things you need to do (like a pressing or deadlifting protocol).

You want a plan? How about some of the concepts from Georges Hébert’s Guide Pratique de la Methode Naturelle? Hébert, by the way, is the original “traceur” to whom Parkour is credited to.

“Activity is a law of Nature. Every living being, obeying an innate need for natural activity, reaches complete physical development by the mere usage of locomotion, as well as manual labor and defense mechanisms.

Humans, in their most natural and primitive state, in the wild for instance, are compelled to lead an active life in order to sustain their needs, fulfilling complete physical development by only performing natural and functional exercises: walking, running, jumping, climbing, lifting, throwing, swimming, self-defense etc, as well as the partaking in mundane activities.”

(…)

“In civilized countries, social obligations, conventions and judgment distance men from their natural outdoors environment and often prevent the practice of physical activity. Physical development becomes set back, even stuck by said obligations or conventions.

Of those in modern society who are able to take a sufficient daily dose of training in line with their constitution can reach, without any particular method, full physical development by the simple practice of natural exercises and their variations and by performing basic functional drills or standard labor. This is a form of imitation of people living in a wild natural state, the difference being they do so by choice and leisure rather than by necessity.”

(…)

“Any physical education system or method contains the following exercises:

  1. Basic educational exercises: basic arm, leg, trunk movements, suspended/hanging work, supported work (planks, push-ups), balance work, hops and breathing patterns.
  2. Natural and necessary functional, divided into 8 categories: marching/walking, running, swimming, climbing, lifting weights, throwing objects and defensive/combative tactics.
  3. All sports and games, even for fun rather than useful function, as well as common manual labor.”

(…)

“You only need a brief moment to reflect on this to understand that these eight categories are all useful, in various degrees, throughout our existence. Outside of them exists the practice of activities like fencing, horseback riding, rowing, which are of secondary use or limited to a certain population; or games, ports, acrobatic or fun activities, none of which are needed for all individuals, regardless of social status or occupation.

Henceforth, there is only one general system geared at the perfection of the human machine, and it is based on progressive training and the methodical practice of natural and functional drills. We can call it the Natural Method.”

So, please remember:

1. Learn.

2. Prepare.

3. Apply.

“Just” training (#2) is not the goal.

 

Run for joy!

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Recently, I have had quite a few clients ask me to teach them how to run properly following the Pose Method of Running I learned in London a couple of years ago from Lee Saxby, one of the highest level Pose coaches worldwide.

POSE AND FOOTWEAR
Conversations about Dr Romanov’s Pose Method of Running usually start when people see me wear my Vibram Five-Fingers shoes, which are also RKC “Party” approved for kettlebell training. Comfy, barefoot feeling and their varied colors can go from cool looking to clown looking.

While I have successfully improved my clients’ running styles and form, alleviating knee pain and re-training the body to move in natural ways that carryover to just about everything in real life, I have to admit I haven’t made much time for a nice run in about 6 months! Sad… Keep the following in mind: my wife and I had a 3-month old baby, and before that we were readying ourselves for his arrival. Maintaining my physical condition doesn’t require me running. As a matter of fact, I loathe running for fitness. Don’t run to get fit, run cuz you like it. Run for joy, for the fun of it! Southern California, where I reside has beautiful beaches and nice weather year round, as well as great trails minutes away in any direction.

Back to my running…

INSPIRED BY A BOOK
I mentioned in a recent newsletter (or was it a blog post? I lose track when I lose sleep. Thanks, baby Fletcher!) that I was reading Chris McDougall’s Born To Run. The book not only inspired me to go running again (and make time for it), it also educated me on a few things which I will share over time (you can read the book, just click on the banner, or you can wait for my findings…), such as Iskiate and chia seeds (coincidentally, a good friend of mine introduced me to them almost simultaneously as I was engrossed in the book).

During a marathon of a day that started with my first client at 6:45AM, with 7 clients over 7 1/2 hours, then 105 minutes to squeeze in a meal, workout and shower before tackling on 2 more clients, I missed my family, not seeing them for 12 hours by the time I’d get home. To relieve some of my stress (my workout that day felt more like part of my job duties, though I still enjoyed it), I decided to cool off with a run from the gym, breaking in my latest pair of Vibram Five-Fingers (the awesome grey/black camo ones!)
Man did it feel great! I had completed a long set of 32kg kettelebell snatches, working a revolving minute for 20 minutes, after some body weight circuits that included 300 push-ups, jumping squats and jumping lunges, hip bridges, inverted rows and prone shoulder presses. I was running on fumes and Chia Fresca, yet had enough steam to go “grease the groove” with a Pose run. It probably looked like a cheesy SoCal moment, with a goofy surfer looking guy, blond hair flowing in the wind, with an accoutrement that resembled a homeless runner who’d stepped in a bucket of paint (the shoes), but I felt freedom. Freedom from responsibilities, physical performance goals. I was in the moment.
Mind you, I am not saying I was happy to be away from my family. Logistics prevented a sensible visit home during the day. As I always tell my clients, “when you’re training with me, you’re training with me. If there is something important that needs your attention and you CAN make a difference, go do it. If not, BE here :)”
So, I “be” in the running moment, charging up on sun-drenched Vitamin D, balancing out my IGF-1 levels.

If you don’t run outdoors, you’re missing out. Forget the data your treadmill provides you. Who cares how many calories you burned, how far you ran and for how long or what your heart rate was. You don’t need a machine to tell you how you feel.

Just go. Go now!

QUICK RUNNING TIPS
1) Wear as flat a shoe as possible, or with a low heel if you must have cushioning. The high-heeled running shoes promote bad form by forcing a heel strike which you do not feel, but it does jar your knees and hips. I’ve run in my Sanuk sandals, which feel like slippers but offer no support of arch or other pronation/supination fancy stuff. Bare essentials force good form.
2) Stride length has nothing to do with speed. It’s the cadence, i.e. the tempo at which you pull your feet off the ground. Think cartoon characters, whose legs are a blur when running super fast. A longer stride actually slows you down, forcing you to use your quads to propel yourself forward and again, impact is felt on the knees. Keep your stride the same whether you sprint or jog. Notice I also said PULL your feet off the ground. There is no “push” in running. Let gravity do that for you, like a baby taking his first steps falling forward and using gravity and their forward lean as momentum.
3) Don’t try too hard right away. Better to run in short segments (30-100 meters/yards) and reset than to mindlessly log miles. Running is not as innate as you think and is still a skill you need to (re)learn.
4) Carry water with you, stay hydrated to avoid cramping. Best way to carry your bottle: under your armpit. Promotes a better upright posture as well as less arm flailing. And more comfortable than a carrier belt (hate how it slaps my butt or bounces on the side of my hip).

If you want to improve your form, email me your interest in a workshop and we can all go experience the freedom of running as a group. Connect with some new people, make some like-minded friends and learn something in the process!