Disappointment and then Relief
As I started thinking about what to call my new running program last year, I really wanted to be able to snag the name “Running to the Beat”, but after a little searching I found that the name and associated URL had already been taken. The website in question is run by a DJ in Chicago whose mission is to “change people’s relationship with running by curating music that is uplifting, fun, encouraging, captivating, ambitious and performance driven.”
Is this a great mission? For sure! Is it my mission? Not really…
A Movement was Born
My passion is helping people run faster in the safest, most enjoyable way. But after the disappointment of realizing I couldn’t call my program “running to the beat” I was actually relieved when I stumbled upon something even better. And that’s how Off to a Running Start got its name. The final step was to commission a friend and running colleague (who just happens to be a graphic designer) to create my logo and voilà– a movement was born!
Since my passion is helping people get their running programs started, I knew I could leverage two things to achieve this mission.
The first, of course, is music. Who doesn’t love to run to it, especially when running alone?
The second is my rich, long history in teaching. I taught school for many years before relocating to Florida and after settling down here, started training teachers for many years after that. I have since earned my coaching certification and teaching people how to run is my new, current passion!
How to Run Faster
So, how does one get faster, anyway?
Well, there are two things you can think about, whether you are a runner or a walker. One is to increase your stride length, and the other is to increase your cadence. And believe it or not, doing either of these isn’t as obvious as you think!
What is Stride Length?
Let’s start with stride length. You may think that stride length refers to how far your back foot is from your front foot when you run, but it’s not as simple as that. This is because both feet aren’t usually on the ground at the same time when you run, as they are when you walk. So it may be pretty easy to measure a walking stride length, but not so easy for running.
Think about running stride length as the distance you cover with each running step, and you’ll soon realize that this should also include the distance you cover while both feet are in the air too! So technically, running stride length is the distance from the heel of one foot when it hits the ground to the heel of other foot when it hits the ground, including all of your air-based distance! If you use a running app or watch when you run, you should be able to see some data on your average stride length. Mine is right around one meter at this time, but I’m working to increase it.
Cadence or Step Frequency
Now let’s talk about cadence. Cadence is one of those words that isn’t used very often and has a slightly different meaning depending on the context. When I was in marching band in high school, for example, our drummers would play a “cadence” any time we were marching but not actually playing a song, to help us stay in step. And it has a similar meaning when it comes to running.
Cadence is simply the number of steps a runner takes in one minute of running. And if you search around and start reading articles about running cadence you’ll undoubtedly find two recurring themes:
- Most people run with a cadence that is too slow and
- A good cadence goal to strive towards is 180.
Running with a cadence that is too low can lead to injury too, so it’s something to definitely pay attention to. If you don’t know what your comfortable, average running cadence is there are a few ways to figure it out. But the easiest will be to look through any data you have in your runnings apps (Strava, Garmin, etc.) for past runs.
“Undoubtedly the most enjoyable and inspiring way to stay in tempo is to find music that’s at a tempo of … 180bpm.”
A friend of mine recently sent me a link to this article from an Australian running organization about how to run faster. It sums up all of the reasons I created Off to a Running Start and can help you understand all about stride length and cadence.
I am excited to share with you today that early next month, I am releasing two new running albums aptly named “Running to the Beat”.
The music has the perfect beat for running (180 BPM, of course!) and contains coaching guidance on how to increase your stride length and cadence, while decreasing your chances of injury.
There’s nearly two hours of music and coaching in all, and the albums will be available on your favorite music sites (iTunes, Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play, etc.) soon. I’ll keep you posted on the exact release date as soon as it’s official!
Until then…keep running to the beat!
Leave a comment below and let me know if you enjoy running to the beat too.