Friday, May 18, 2012

Treadmill theory disproved

Cadence is key
Today's run (street): 2.5 miles

I counted my steps during a recent treadmill run to confirm a theory I have about cadence. My hypothesis was that I typically achieve a higher cadence when running on the machine (compared to the road), because the restricted area of the treadmill forces a shorter stride. I thought that might be the reason why a moderate pace on the road feels much faster indoors.

The results of my test surprised me. At 6.5 mph on the treadmill, my strides per minute (SPM) count was 166. That was based on counting steps for 30 seconds and doubling the result. The ideal SPM number is 180 and that explains why I'm not that fast. I was a little surprised to see my theory disproved, but I also felt that my turnover was fairly rapid, considering the results. But the stopwatch doesn't lie.

I took my new test shoes out on the road for the first time today and really liked the experience. Despite feeling great throughout my run, my time was solidly average. I thought about focusing on cadence, but honestly, I didn't feel like pushing very hard at 4:00 AM.

I'm finally realizing that if I want to go faster I have to do the work. There's no easy trick for increasing speed and cadence. It's not better engineered shoes or energy supplements. It takes interval training sessions and frequent workouts that push me past my comfort zone. Some people see those things as part of the fun of running. I'm not quite there yet.

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