Sunday, November 23, 2008

Turning 'Em Over

A couple of years ago I noticed an odd thing: I ran faster off of my bike than I did without biking first. That's kind of the opposite of what most triathletes report (what with the rubber-leg factor and all), so I wondered what could've made the difference for me. Reading an article on running cadence supplied the missing link. After time spent on the bike, where my natural cycling cadence is around 90 - 92, I turn my feet over faster when I run. It's like they're already in that rhythm and can just continue on at that pace. Reading some books on running form like ChiRunning and the POSE method made me realize that cadence was important in running too. I've never been much of a runner, but in these last couple of years I've tried to change my attitude towards this last of the three sports in triathlon.

Now it's been awhile since I really got to working on my running form. Last year with my tendon injury (never run in high heels, ever again!) I barely got in any running at all, so this year feels like starting over, though not entirely from scratch.

I've been keeping track of my running cadence, and am happy to report that despite my year off I have an overall net improvement over two years ago when I first started trying to increase my cadence.

When I first took note of the fact that I had a running cadence at all, it looked like this:

Distance runs: 78
Tempo runs: 82
Speed work: 84
Bricks (running off of the bike): 88

In the last couple of weeks, I've tracked my cadence on every run and now it looks like this:

Distance runs: 83
Tempo runs: 87
Speed work: 90
Bricks: 90

I know I'm still not at an optimum cadence of around 90 for everything, but it's definitely gotten better by a long shot. It felt really awkward at first, especially on the long runs, but it's getting much more natural now. I had an awesome ten miler today and kept my cadence in the 83 - 84 zone the whole way, and actually had a negative split. It feels good to be back.

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