Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Metronome

I've had this love-hate thing going on with my metronome. I love the idea. I hate the implementation. Sound familiar? I love the idea of being a World Champion. I hate the amount of work its gonna take me to get there :-)

The verdict is mixed on cadence in running, near as I can tell. I always tell people, for every one article that is for a given study on the inter-web, I can find another that is against it. That's why I always follow the policy of trust, but verify, and I always corroborate with my own experiences.

It doesn't take a genius to realize that a runner that is moving at 160 steps a minute is not going to run as fast as a runner moving at 180 steps per minute, unless the first runner is striding far longer, with the resulting impact on form and pounding to the body.

They (the gods of the internet) say that if there is one thing you can do to improve your running in an overall profound way, cadence would be it. A high cadence shortens your stride, lessens the impact of your footfalls, optimizes the expenditure of energy, promotes a mid-foot strike, yada yada yada...

My problem is that it also encourages... exhaustion :-) You have to work equally hard at upping your cadence as you do controlling your heart rate. I haven't been running all that much, and while a lot of time in Zone 4 is appealing, my body just wasn't ready for it.

Maybe it was ready for the 85 degree temperatures.

I went to the land of flatness (Hobgood Park), and ran around the fields while Matthew kicked the soccer ball on the pitch. I ran for forty minutes, which consisted of: ten minutes warm up, then 4x5 minutes @ 180 cadence, 1 minute walking, and a five minute cool down.

This will be my model for running the rest of the year. Whether I am doing hills, intervals, tempo, long slow run, whatever, my focus will be cadence.

and let's see where this takes us....

Wes

12 comments:

Lily on the Road said...

whether it be running, cycling or swimming, it is ALL about cadence.

Shorter steps at a faster pace, smaller gear for more revolutions, full immersion swimming....it never ends, but in the long run (no pun intended), all we can do is mix it up to see what works best for us.

Have a Great 4th of July!!!

Kim said...

my former team, QT2, was all about cadence. i definitely find myself counting my strides at times when i run. but then i see these super fast gazelle-type runners who have long strides and wonder - wtf.

Nick said...

From my personal experience ... regardless of the pace I'm running it is always 92-94 cadence (184-188 steps per min). So when I'm running fast my stride is much longer than when running easy, but cadence doesn't really change. Stride length does change though. But here's the key: while cadence doesn't change and stride length does, where the foot strikes in relation to the hips/torso does not change (e.g no "over striding"). Make sense?

LBTEPA said...

hmmmm..... something to think about, thanks Wes!

Jess said...

I've tried to focus on the cadence thing too, it's definitely challenging but I notice I certainly pick up the pace as I increase my footfalls. Good luck with the new focus.

Makita said...

Great post - gives me more to contemplate - how do you measure your cadence or steps when running?

Love the new blog header, btw!

Gotta Run..Gotta Ride said...

On most runs I use a short stride. Sometimes I use long but I could see the logic behind going shorter. Just anther thing to remember and focus on :)

John said...

I'm just going to believe I'm a natural speed demon and not worry about my cadence. I mean I can't even keep track of my swim laps and now I need to count my footstrikes? :-)

Michelle said...

Makes sense to me!

Maryland Girl aka Michelle said...

I would be doomed to try and count while running. LOL. I get the concept though and I practice cadence while on the bike. Interested to see how is goes.

Blaine Moore said...

I'll echo Nick's statement...I'm usually in the mid/high 180 steps/minute but the relationship of my foot strike and my body doesn't change much if at all.

Here's some suggestions to improve your running form which will help improve your cadence:

1. Learn to run barefoot. Hard to overstride, easy to get a high cadence. A smooth, flat road is the best place to learn.

2. Don't count foot strikes. Don't think about your foot hitting the ground at all. That will happen naturally with no help from your brain.

3. Pay attention to lifting your foot as soon as it touches the ground and count when you lift rather than when you strike. It makes it easier to take lighter, quicker steps. The brain is weird that way.

iJuls said...

Sounds challenging to "try" to make it happen all of the time. I'm exhausted already. Oh yeah, that's cuz I'm sick. If anyone can, YOU can.