Gordon Pirie’s ‘Running Fast and Injury Free’ – A Must-Read for Aspiring Runners
I first read this book back in 2009 whilst nursing a knee injury and trying to find a solution. Much of the content mirrors what Christopher McDougall covered in his bestseller Born to Run, and other subsequent running publications related to running performance.
Go Barefoot or Go Minimalist
He points out that no professional athletes compete in “overstuffed, wedge-heeled orthopaedic boots that most joggers wear”, and that “the difference between running in bare feet and in the typical jogging shoe can be up to 30 seconds a mile.” As such, Pirie always advised his trainees to wear the lightest shoe they could find. “These shoes” Pirie continues “should have the same amount of padding at the front under the toes as at the rear, with no wedged or flared heels.”
In Running Fast and Injury Free, Pirie’s advocated technique is not too dissimilar to the POSE Technique, or what is commonly regarded as the natural / barefoot style. He advises taking shorter steps (3-5 steps per second) as opposed to striding and heel-striking, which wastes energy on vertical movement of the body (Joggers ‘bobbing’ up and down). He also describes his collaboration with Adidas-founder Adolf ‘Adi’ Dassler on designing running shoes.
Pirie was a controversial character, and he doesn’t shy away from the odd controversial statement in this book. It is at times contradictory (“walking damages running”, then later adding he would add 4-hour walking sessions to his training. Yet ‘Running Fast and Injury Free’ is still an enjoyable read with some fantastic advice, and by taking heed of some of Pirie words you will probably cover more ground faster.
Zapotek, Mimoun, and Gordon Pirie lead the way in the 1952 10,000m Final
(Also notice Sando (84) missing his left shoe!)
You can both read the book for free online, or download the PDF here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/13695/Gordon-Piries-Running-Fast-and-Injury-Fre
Gordon Pirie’s Laws of Running:
- Running with correct technique (even in prepared bare feet), on any surface, is injury free.
- Running equals springing through the air, landing elastically on the forefoot with a flexed 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).
- Any and all additions to the body damage running skill.
- Quality beats quantity; the speed at which you practice the most will be your best speed.
- Walking damages running.
- The correct running tempo for human beings is between three and five steps per second.
- Arm power is directly proportional to leg power.
- Good posture is critical to running. (Don’t lean forwards!).
- Speed kills endurance; endurance kills speed.
- Each individual can only execute one “Program” at any one time; an individual can be identified by his or her idiosyncrasies (i.e. “Program”). An individual can change his or her “Program” only by a determined, educational effort; each individual’s Program” degenerates unless it is controlled constantly.
- Static stretching exercises cause injuries!
- Running equals being out of breath, so breathing through the mouth is obligatory (hence the nickname “Puff Puff Pirie”).
Thanks for reading. Feel free to share your thoughts and comment on this post.