Saturday, October 6, 2012

Gordon Pirie's Laws Of Running

So I spent this cold Saturday afternoon reading an ebook.. Running Fast & Injury Free by Gordon Pirie / Dr John S Gilbody. Wanted to share this particular page of pointers from the front pages of the book - makes interesting discussion straightaway! (especially with so much recent research done on running techniques) but nonetheless provides a nice insight into what this book is all about.

I'll return with more after I'm done with the book, hopefully soon (I'm a hopelessly slow reader, plus I'm heading out for a run now!)

But before that - Who is Gordon Pirie you ask, well - wikipedia spells it out in brief:

Someone very kind put it up online in PDF format, do check it out!

Copyright of Gordon Pirie / Dr. John S Gilbody


1 - Running with correct technique (even in prepared bare feet), on any surface, is injury free.

2 - Running equals springing through the air, landing elastically on the forefoot with aflexed knee (thus producing quiet feet). On landing, the foot should be directly below the body. (Walking is landing on the heels with a straight leg).

3 - Any and all additions to the body damage running skill.

4 - Quality beats quantity; the speed at which you practice the most will be your bestspeed.

5 - Walking damages running.

6 - The correct running tempo for human beings is between three and five steps persecond.

7 - Arm power is directly proportional to leg power.

8 - Good posture is critical to running. (Don't lean forwards!).

9 - Speed kills endurance; endurance kills speed.

10 - Each individual can only execute one “Program” at any one time; an individual canbe identified by his or her idiosyncrasies (i.e. “Program”). An individual can change hisor her “Program” only by a determined, educational effort; each individual's “Program”degenerates unless it is controlled constantly.

11 - Static stretching exercises cause injuries!

12 - Running equals being out of breath, so breathing through the mouth is obligatory(hence the nickname “Puff Puff Pirie”)

Book Review (Updated 8 Oct 2012)

Well - don't think I qualify too well in writing a review for this book coz I couldn't finish it! Quite frankly the first 2 chapters were still pretty readable but Chapter 3 onwards was just a muck. Sorry to be blunt but I can see why publishers would've hesitated publishing it! it made poor reading to say the least. Not taking away any credit for Gordon's running achievements & advice. Just was poorly conveyed. And laid out.

Earlier chapters of history of running in Britain was very nice & it made me feel most regretful I didn't find running in my UK years. Subsequent running technique descriptions were good and insightful, and was amusing that the words 'Don't lean forward' was constantly repeated. This is almost in total conflict of the recent 'Chi Running' technique where runners ARE encouraged to have a slight tilt forward to utilise the force of gravity in propelling them forward. But I'm no Chi Running expert so there could be some misunderstanding of their technique. In any case, both emphasizes on forefoot & midfoot strikes and knee-bends, avoiding over-striding & heel strikes. I have felt myself going faster in my last run where I paid deliberate attention to maintaining the correct running form & as such can give personal testament to this.

And it's interesting that Gordon remarked that heel-strikes are only allowed when doing downhill on loose sand or gravel - where the heel strike is needed to bury the feet into the ground to stop sliding. So there. Heel strikes are allowed if you're about to fall off some cliff.

And another very interesting point he made was - "In proper running technique, therefore, the foot should land on its outer front perimeter, such that the footprint follows a straight line. As the weight is borne by the foot, it rolls inwards until flat on the ground." and "Contrary to what the shoe companies would have you believe, the foot is supposed to twist and roll as it goes through each contact phase with the ground, I teach all my runners to train in the lightest shoes they can find." 

Which brings us to the topic of shoes - Gordon mentions "It is very important, therefore, for the toe area of your running shoes to be constructed of the toughest possible material, and to be of adequate thickness." because that's where blisters would form if you were to run barefoot with correct technique. And to buy 'firm, lightweight shoes'. Learn to run properly instead of relying on padding & cushioning.

Briefly on training methods - he emphasizes the importance of doing Intervals. And not to run the intervals 100% but at a comfortable slower than competition pace. There was a paragraph where he gave a general guide towards a training: "Early in the year, you should be doing a great deal of general running in the forest, including a lot of hills. As you get fitter and fitter, you can then add interval training to your programme, and then hyper-fast running as the racing season approaches. Once you begin racing, intervals will have been phased out altogether in favour of faster and faster hyper-fast running sessions (with fewer repetitions, of course!) and the race practice sessions."

It was very interesting to note that Gordon expressed his preference towards the "wide, open spaces, and to do it with abandon according to, and as an expression of, my moods and feelings. Up hill and down dale, through woods or along beaches -this is truly the most beautiful way to run."

For I almost cried when I read that - I knew I can trust what this guy had to say. :) So that's it folks - my quick & brief review of this book, certainly take some time to read it if you have the patience, and if you don't - do the earlier chapters like how I did it. Good luck. And happy reading!

1 comment:

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