Despite real evidence, a puzzle remains

Cadence confirmed

Today’s run (5.3 miles)

This morning’s run brought me closer to understanding the impact of the metronome, but there is still a missing piece of the puzzle. I put a new battery in my foot pod and clipped it to my shoe for the first time since I bought my Garmin FR210 in May 2011. The FR210 uses GPS, but the foot pod allows me to capture my cadence during my run. It’s a metric I’ve missed having when I analyze my performance data.

The good news is that I now have proof that the metronome works. I set the app for 87 SPM before I started and the data shows I averaged exactly that on today’s run. This is no coincidence. I have mounds of pre-FR210 data that shows that (at best) I used to average 83 SPM on a training run. The cause and effect of the metronome’s beat could not be clearer. All I have to do is jump it up to 90 SPM and my performance is optimized. Problem solved!

(Cue sound of record scratch)

What? That’s not the whole story?!! Indeed it is not. While there seems to be evidence supporting the effectiveness of a metronome, the result of today’s 87 SPM performance was an average pace of 9:42 per mile. I measured my route using two different browsers (Milemeter is behaving much better now) and they were pretty consistent, so I’m going with that pace. So cadence improves, and my pace gets worse. Huh?

The last puzzle piece clearly involves stride length. It’s likely that I’m achieving my SPM target by maintaining a shorter stride. It makes sense that opening stride length with an increasingly higher cadence will bring my pace down to my targeted level. Sounds easy, but we all know the danger of over striding. I think I’ll take one victory at a time and work my way up to 90/180 SPM and see what that gets me. Once I can do that consistently (and without the need for a metronome), I can start experimenting with stride technique.

8 thoughts on “Despite real evidence, a puzzle remains

  1. The opening stride has to come from BEHIND, not in front. It's a pushing motion from midfoot, not a pulling motion from midfoot. Think about contracting your gluts and hamstrings to give you increased power. Land on soft knees.


  2. I was going to say exactly what you concluded at the end of your post. Maybe thinking so much about cadence has got you shortening your stride to make sure you get your foot down in time for the metronome beat?


  3. Thanks, that makes sense. I'll try it, although I'm concerned that I could start over-thinking the whole process. I've read that when using a metronome for run pacing, you should use a 3:4 tempo to avoid favoring one foot over the other. Any opinion on that?


  4. I am concerned about focusing too much on cadence. For now, I think it's a good tactic. I need to get to 90 SPM. Once I can sustain that rate without needing to think about it, I hope I'll be able to run without consciously shortening my step length.


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