Over the past couple of months I have read a few “how to run better” books and some of them talk about using a metronome to help you run at a higher cadence (about 180 steps/beats per minute for both feet or ChiRunning 85 to 90 steps per minute with your right foot).
Faster Cadence Benefits
According to the writers this increased cadence will make it so:
- you take shorter quicker shorter strides, which in turn keeps your feet under your body and lessens heel.
- your foot turnover rate is higher, so your feet are not on the ground as much i.e. less pounding
- you run faster with less effort, expending less energy
- there are other benefits of increasing your cadence, but these seem to be the primary ones.
From my understanding after reading those books the net effect of increasing your cadence are improvements in speed (pace) and helping to improve your running form.
Working on Form
I have worked on changing and improving my form a lot since November and even after reading the books I didn’t understand how increasing my cadence would help my form.
That was one of the big struggles I was having with ChiRunning, understanding how you kept the same cadence and used body lean and lengthening your stride to go faster. This concept didn’t really make sense to me and seemed totally counter-intuitive.In my mind raising your cadence, simply meant that you were running faster.
I am finding out that is not what increasing your cadence always means.
I figured the only way that I would figure this out would be to actually run with a metronome – I am one of those people, who have to do something most of the time to understand a concept.
The other night I downloaded the free “Perfect Cadence” app for my old iPhone and ran with it. Here is my RunBlog entry for how I felt running with it for the first time.
It did make a difference.
After running with the metronome clicking I had one of those “aha” moments where you suddenly better understand what the authors were talking about.
To put it simply I had experienced what running to the 180 beat and the resulting increase in your cadence does.
Quite bluntly, I did not have a much time to simply plod along as usual. In order to keep the cadence I had to keep moving my feet and when I slowed down the persistent tick, reminded me to speed up the feet again.
When I wanted to go faster it was a lot easier to lean forward a little, than it was to stand up straight and use my quads to go faster. Tried both, there was a definite difference.
It makes more sense now
Just that simple little iPhone metronome app gave me a lot better understanding of the point the authors were trying to make with increasing your cadence, that I didn’t understand before. Yes the app is annoying at first, but after a short time I didn’t even notice it, unless I was focusing on the beat to make sure that I was keeping the proper cadence.
I did find out if you were not keep pace with the proper beat that you noticed it fairly quickly, your running just felt “off”.
Faster – no doubt
The 180 beat cadence was definitely faster than my usual slogging along and forced me to run differently. I ran lighter, with quicker steps and this morning my calves are much more sore than they have been in long time. So I know that I was running differently – different muscles were sore. I felt that I ran faster, with less effort, even though my “cadence” was higher.
I am not saying that I totally understand all this higher cadence stuff yet, its implications or benefits. Certainly – one session does not make me a true believer or expert on the matter. However, I do have a better appreciation of what authors like Dreyer, Daniels and Fitzgerald are talking about when they talk about the benefits of increasing your running cadence.
I have a feeling that the “Perfect Cadence” app will find a place in my running toolbox, to help me with my training.
Something that I will do differently next time is wear headphones, so I can/will focus on the beat more and not get weird looks from someone else if they are walking down the road and I am ticking like a time bomb :-).
The reality is that
I have a feeling that I will be training with Metronome more often to get myself accustomed to running at the higher cadence rate. I wonder how that will impact the rest of my body and my running?
According to some very knowledgeable people, they say it will improve my running form, which will result in less injuries, more running and faster times – I hope so. Time will tell.