Showing posts with label metronome. Show all posts
Showing posts with label metronome. Show all posts

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Measure for measure, I don't like this change

New and improved?
Today's run (street): 5 miles

In business, many people subscribe to the idea that, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." I made my career challenging that notion and I firmly believe (at least in technology) that complacency is the enemy of success. Okay, no more clich├ęs, but I do believe that open source technologies further the cause of progress. So am I a hypocrite to condemn the new Gmaps version that just went up, using OpenLayers in place of the Google Maps API?

I've relied on Gmaps for years as a tool to precisely measure my routes. Foot pods and GPS watches/apps both fall short due to calibration, route angles or weather. I always use mapping, combined with time, to calculate my exact pace. This morning I was surprised to see a new interface for Gmaps. I also discovered that Gmaps is now an open source supported framework, and will now be called Milermeter. It wasn't until I tried mapping this morning's run that I started to grumble.

I won't go into the specific issues that I had, but I will say that the interface can use some refinement. I'm not sure of the reason, but items flicker on screen and the tools behaved inconsistently. I'm also unsure about the accuracy. I mapped my route using "Milermeter" with both Chrome and Firefox and saw a 1.5% difference in distance between them. Both measurements fell short of what my Garmin captured, surprising because that usually under-counts distance.

Forgetting the technology issues for a moment, this morning's run turned out to be a really good workout. I ran over to the business park to run the loop a few times. This route offers either a steady uphill for almost a mile, or a shorter but steeper section if you run it in the opposite direction. I took the steeper option and made three circuits before heading home.

I used my metronome app and set it to 87 SPM. Although I felt I was coordinating my steps with metronome, I didn't end up with a particularly fast pace. To be fair, except for the hill, I didn't push that hard, although I kept a steady stride throughout the run. Right now, I care more about managing up my cadence than speed. If I understand how this all works, better paces should follow

Friday, September 27, 2013

Knee problems? Don't blame running!

 
If you think walking is a better way to exercise than running because it's easier on your knees, you would be incorrect. That is according to a Canadian study that tested both the force and frequency of steps for runners and walkers. The New York Times published an article about this study on Wednesday. The conclusion stated, "Measured over a particular distance, 'running and walking are essentially indistinguishable,' in terms of the wear and tear they may inflict on knees."

I know a few people who claim that they used to run, but can't anymore, "because it hurt their knees." I have no doubt that they think that's true. I've always thought that knee problems are predetermined and would surface regardless of any sport that these people practiced. The article also quoted a doctor and kinesiology professor who said, "the study’s results intimate that running potentially could be beneficial against arthritis." I thought so!

Today my wife and I repeated last Friday's Bethpage experience with a 70 minute walk, primarily on the wooded trails. We alternated our walking with a few minutes of running. My wife runs 45 minutes a day on the treadmill, but she has never done a trail run. She loved the the spongy feel of the main trail and I took her on some of the less groomed paths within the interior sections. We walked the last couple of miles on the bike trail. I'm not sure how much ground we covered because I forget to bring my Fitbit.

Tomorrow I may return to Bethpage to run, using the metronome to try to further increase my cadence. It will also be an opportunity to run a few hills as I prepare for the long uphill climb on my upcoming 5K.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Metronome running: Calls and Cadence

Runnis Interruptus
Today's run (street): 3.4 miles

Using a metronome may have actually helped my cadence this morning. Once I start using my foot pod (good suggestion FS) I will know for sure. It was a weird run, punctuated by a ringing cellphone that I would normally ignore. Today I had two good reason to stop. First, the call was business related and important. Second, the ringing phone shut the metronome app off. Grrr.

I used the Metronome Beats app today because it has better features than the one I tried yesterday. Most importantly, it punches out beats loud and clear, unlike Metronome Mobile's softer sound. I set it for two clicks per beat, which is easier than trying to coordinate two footfalls to a single beat. Focusing on the sound made my first mile go by quickly and the odd beeping noise produced double takes from neighbors as I passed by.

The phone call caused an interruption and I was honest about being in the middle of a run. That was no problem and I think the endorphins helped keep me calm during an intense conversation. Soon I was back to the run and I realized that it would be easier to time my arm-swing to the rhythm, rather than try to keep my footfalls synchronized.  Do your arms move at the same rate as your cadence? That would be interesting to know.

I moved really well and everything was fine, until the app quit about half a mile from home. I considered stopping and restarting the metronome, but I'd already stopped once on the run. I tried to "think" the beat that I'd been following and that may have worked. Today's pace was 9:22 and it felt fairly easy. I'd set the metronome one SPM faster than yesterday and that yielded a 2.4% improvement in pace. That assumes a lot, but it was progress and that came from somewhere.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Running cadence, there's an app for that

Metronome apps
Today's run (street): 3.4 miles

Yesterday I wrote that I wanted to increase my run cadence, but wasn't sure how to approach it. I got a comment from fellow running blogger, The Petite Pacer, who suggested I try a metronome phone app. That was a great idea and I downloaded a couple of free ones, Metronome Beats and Mobile Metronome. After researching how to use a metronome for cadence, I was good to go.

I decided to use Mobile Metronome first, and set the BPM at 85, which is undoubtedly higher than my current SPM. Back when I used a foot pod, my cadence typically averaged 80 SPM on the road and 83 SPM on the treadmill. I wanted to set an aspirational cadence, rather than start with the ideal of 90/180 SPM. I was curious whether I'd be able to sync my steps with the metronome's rhythm.

I always run with my phone and I keep it in a SPIbelt on my waist. Even after setting both the phone and application volumes to their maximum, the sound of the beat was faint. Under normal conditions I could hear it, but the occasional sounds of helicopters, lawnmowers and passing school buses would drown it out. The challenge of matching stride with beat was a little tough. I decided to let it happen naturally by focusing on the beeps.

I'm not sure that I achieved my targeted cadence today, since I have no way to capture the metric. I felt like I was on top of the beat, but it's hard to really know. My overall pace, a pedestrian 9:37, doesn't indicate fast turnover. Tomorrow I'm going to try the Beats app that provides the option of beat pairs that could help me sync both steps. The app also offers more ways to shape the sound, so I'm hoping it will be easier to hear, even with lots of background noise.
 

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