I’ve been reading a bit about running style lately and I read a very good description of how to adopt a good running technique . It’s so simple really. First, run on the spot – this will ensure that your foot is striking the ground under your hips which is where it should be striking. Keeping that motion just lean slightly forward – not from the hips but from the ankles – voila! You are now moving forward in the correct style! Keep going – just concentrate on lifting your feet up and putting them down again under your hips (your centre of gravity). If you lean more, you’ll go faster. How simple is that.
Now this is where the cadence comes in – the speed at which you turn those feet over. According to various studies the ideal cadence (and the cadence at which most good runners run) is 180. Their feet strike the ground 180 times per minute (counting both feet) – that is 3 times per second.
It is extremely difficult counting my steps per second on our dirt roads – dodging rocks is not conducive to a smooth count. Also, as soon as I start staring at my watch or trying to do maths in my head, I tend to trip and end up face first on the gravel. Most undignified. This is where my friend the the treadmill comes in. After a warm-up walk, put the t-mill onto a nice slow pace and onto incline number 1 and pretend you’re running on the spot. No need to lean forward, the t-mill will take you. Just concentrate on lifting and putting down your feet 3 times per second. Gradually increase the speed.
I’ve downloaded a metronome app for my phone – “Runahoo” – so that I know what 3 beats per second sounds like and now I think I’m ready to take my cadence workout to the road! Most of the run will be easy pace (zone 1 and 2) with short bursts of “cadence work” thrown in. Like every change in running, one needs to build slowly. I hope to eventually run everything and everywhere at the “right” cadence.
An added bonus is that this type of workout fits in more or less with Joe Friel’s “Speed “Skills”, one of his three basic abilities that should be built up. I can do 20 second bursts of faster cadence with 80 second recoveries. Or it could be done fartlek style. Or should that be cadlek?