Having spent months reading (Ok, flicking through) a variety of running books and magazine, I have now become very conscious of my cadence. Running cadence is basically the measure of how many strikes (either the right foot OR the left foot) makes in one minute. I'm beginning to realise that I have been attacking "speed" work all wrong. Instead of having my cadence go faster as I picked up speed, it felt easier to let it stay the same and lengthen my stride as I ran faster. By doing this my legs have got used to running at the same cadence no matter what the speed. Apparently this is very inefficient and exhausting to the body. Over-striding, which is landing the foot fall too far in front of their center of gravity, actually reduces momentum and increases the chance of injury. The long 'n' short...if your cadence is slower that 85 stride per minute, your feet stay in contact with the ground longer, which means that you legs are supporting your body weight for a longer period of time. On the flip side, if you cadence is over 85 strides per minute, you'll spend significantly less time on your feet, saving valuable energy. The target should be 85-90 (around 95 for elite athletes) stride per minute - regardless of speed.
Today I've decided to dust off the poor man's running device - the Garmin 50 - and try out a cadence-focused run. One of the (few) advantages of the new Garmin 50 is that is works using a footpod, so can measure cadence very effectively. I believe the 305 (and the soon to be released 405) has an add-on footpod device too. Oh I while I was at it, the session gave me the perfect opportunity to try out my new lightweight Asics DS trainers. You know me, any excuse for shopping ;-)
I had to fit in my run before the club's committee meeting. After having a head-banging day at work, I needed it before facing the knights' of the round table. Opted for a relatively flat route. Started from Anniesland, along Great Western Road, down Lincoln, up Danes and onto Balshagray Ave and back up Crow Road. Finished the 4.5m route in 37.19 with average 8.22m/m. As I said, this run was about cadence. I've since discovered that I'm an elite athlete. My extra layer of fake tan not only makes me look like a Kenyan, but my average cadence was 96! The variation from start to finish was 90 - 98. This might suggest (not half!) that it's my stride length that lets me down. Once I've got my cadence cemented, I'll start working on lengthening my stride.
New lightweight trainers are pretty good. This is the first time I've paddled in the pond of the over-cautious racer. I didn't find a huge difference is weight, as I have hobbit-sized feet anyway. Mind you, what I lost in shoe weight, I gained in winter clothing and extra gadgets.
I'd like to say a shout out to my Brother-in-Law, Paul. He is a keen follower of WHW blogs and the drive behind Marco's competitiveness. Paul's a great track runner, but is attempting his first marathon in London this year. Look out for his training plan: How to run a marathon on 400m reps! He only slightly undermined my status as a serious athlete by saying he likes to read my blog because "it's pink and cheery".