In the quest to become a better runner, I’m training for my first half marathon. My logic is that if I can complete a 13 mile race, then I’ll finally be able to RUN a 5k (since I have always walked a portion of every 5k I’ve done). One of the things I really like about this training is adding up all the miles I’ve run since I’ve started. For some reason, that makes me feel pretty badass.
Spending a significant amount of time running really does give you time to think. I’ve heard runners explain how this happens before (you know, those people who say “if I don’t run I’ll go crazy! It’s where I get all my ideas/solve all my problems/think about all the things”) but this is really the first time where I’ve experienced this. Usually, all I can think about when I’m running is how much it hurts – haha! Anyway, since I’ve found that I can now think beyond the immediate physical discomfort, what do I think about? Running mechanics. Hey baby steps, right?
I’ve been focusing on proper form and cadence while I’m on my outdoor runs. For me, I need to feel like I’m leaning forward to have the right running stride and form (I naturally slouch backward when running, so this correction keeps me upright). I also am working on higher running cadence. I tend to over-stride, so focusing on a higher cadence keeps my steps shorter and reduced muscle fatigue (and I’ll be less prone to injury this way). Cadence is a tough one to master though, because who has the ability to count how many steps per minute they are taking DURING the activity? I don’t have that level of focus, that’s for sure.
Some people use a metronome for this purpose, but when I heard that, all I could think about was the clunky analog thing we used for piano lessons when I was a kid.
Instead I found a way to use music! I’ve made playlists with songs where the beat of the song matches the cadence you should be setting while running. Now you just run to the beat and don’t have to count. (Added bonus, you can pretend you’re dancing instead of running when it gets hard.) I’m not a huge fan of running with headphones and music (because I think it’s dangerous to not be able to hear the world around you), but I keep the volume low enough that I can still be aware of my surroundings.
So how do you find out what songs are at the right tempo to hit the pace you want to set? This website jog.fm (there is an app too, but I haven’t used it yet). You enter your target pace and it will list every song that has a beat that will match your pace. I’ve been focusing on achieving a 10 minute mile, so I’ve been choosing songs in the 9:30 to 10:30 minute range. My favorite playlist right now is below:
If you’re looking to keep a steady pace on your next run, you should definitely check out the website/app. Other benefits besides just controlling or changing your cadence are that you can easily set your pace for a long run, preventing a crash or burnout if you tend to go out too quickly. You can also choose songs and order them so that you achieve negative splits on a run.
Have you used jog.fm before? Have any pace or cadence tricks you’d like to share? What are your favorite running songs? Leave a comment below and let me know!