(Old school version above)
One Tool Every Runner Should Use
A metronome. It is the tool I use with every runner and most of the patients I see in clinic every day. Here’s why:
The sound of the metronome gives you something you can hear and set your movements to the beat. You don’t have to watch in a mirror or keep track of anything other than move your feet to the beat of the sound. For a runner, it is a sound you can use when you go out for your run to set your cadence to. Cadence (how many steps you take in a minute) is something I work on with every runner. Making sure your feet are turning over at a good pace (normal range is 160-190 steps per minute – I like people to live around 170 at the slowest) can reduce a number of stresses that can cause the injuries I treat in the clinic including muscle strains, tendonitis, even stresses that can lead to a stress fracture or bone injury.
How do you use this starting today? If you have a smart phone, there are a number of free metronome apps. Search your App Store and see which one works best for you. Then count how many steps you take on one foot or the other for 30 seconds, multiply that number by 4 (math is not my strong suit but trust me, this will give you a good idea of your cadence). If you find your number is less than 160, try setting your metronome at a 5% increase and gradually work up to tolerating your run at this new cadence.
If you are still not at 160, continue to increase by 5% until you fall into the recommended range. Increasing your pace will make you tired and very likely you will not tolerate your entire run at a new pace, so incorporate it in small bits of time throughout your entire run, building tolerance slowly. Also, increasing your steps per minute should not mean running faster, it is turning your legs over faster. Once you find your new and improved cadence, rather than listening to a metronome beat (kind of boring), you can google music that has that number of beats per minute (probably more motivating).
If you have any other questions or feel like you would benefit from a running evaluation, contact OSI and come see one of our running specialists. We’d love to hear what you’re doing to train properly!