There is one aspect of your running that you can change right now that will improve your form and efficiency, and decrease your chance of injury immensely.
During the 1984 Olympics, legendary running coach Jack Daniels observed runners from 800m up to the marathon. He noticed that just about all of them had a cadence of 180 beats per minute (bpm) or higher. Cadence is the speed of their footsteps. So their feet were moving pretty quickly, especially compared to recreational joggers.
It turns out that this higher cadence isn’t just for elite athletes. It works well for all runners. By running at this faster cadence, we are more likely to strike the ground with our feet in a much less injurious manner than if we run at a slower cadence. It also helps us utilize the natural springiness of our legs, so that we are using less effort and “muscling” less, which makes running easier.
So how do you know what this speed is, and how do you maintain it? Well, go online and Google “songs at 180 bpm” and you’ll get a list of songs you can keep in your mind or download into your Ipod. You can also buy a thing called a metronome, which musicians use to keep a steady beat. If you search for “clip on metronome” on ebay, here’s a good one you’ll find:
It clips onto your shorts, and it’s got an earphone jack, but even at the lowest volume it’s pretty loud in your ear. You might have to get creative with ways of kind of muting your earphones. And set it on 90 bpm (half of 180). You’ll still know the right cadence, and the metronome will sound less frantic. Oh yeah, you can also download metronome apps for your Iphone.
Alright, but perhaps 180 just seems way too fast for you to run at. It’s not. This video will show you how to start out. Skip to 9:32 to see the part about running with a metronome. You can run forever like he shows you at first, and you will get faster eventually. Trust me, do it slowly like he first shows, and you won’t believe how easy it is. Stick with it, and in no time, you’ll be better and faster than ever.
If you have the time, you can watch the whole video, but I wouldn’t bother.