Monday, April 26, 2010

My Metronome Arrived Last Week

I finally realized that I need to learn how to run. I don't know what took me so long. I have cycling books and magazines to help me learn how to cycle. I even have a book on swimming, despite being on swim teams in my youth. I figure since I've been running since I was a wee one, I must know how to run, right?

A few weeks ago I did a hard 5k training run and I just wasn't getting any faster. It didn't make any sense. How could my cycling and swimming be consistently improving and my running continue to suck? The answer I came up with is that it must be technique. So I headed over to Amazon and, after a look of review reviewing, I purchased "The Triathlete's Guide to Run Training" by Ken Mierke because many of its reviews mentioned technique.

One of the first ideas he presents is having a high-cadence run, ideally in the 180 strides-per-minute (spm) range. He strongly recommended that I get a metronome to help me in this quest. I would need to decrease my stride-length so I could move away from being a heel-striker and use the metronome to find out what my current cadence is. From there, I would gradually build up to the 180 range. Fortunately, they make these little electronic metronomes that are perfect for what I need so I bought one on eBay.

I went for my first runs with it over the weekend and what a difference! First, I could comfortably run at 164 spm. I had done a few runs the past few weeks where I decreased my stride length but having a metronome was interesting. It sure does keep you honest in the form department because you can't be turning over that quickly and have bad form for long. I did a five-mile run on Saturday and, only paying attention to cadence and form, turned in my fastest pace on a run over 5k. I wasn't even wiped out afterwards, either. There must be something to this cadence thing. Take a look at a marathon on TV and count out the cadence of the lead pack. They're at least 180 spm. It's something I hadn't noticed before.

Ideally I think I would like to move to more of a forefoot striker. Way back when I was briefly on my high school's cross country team. We ran barefoot for almost all of our workouts and the only way to run barefoot is by landing on your forefoot. We were all fine (and 100 pounds lighter, natch) so there must be something to this forefoot thing. We'll see later but, for now, I am just concentrating on getting the cadence up. I dabbled briefly with forefoot running but it trashed my calves so I will wait until after my June triathlon to play with it some more.

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