I was working out on the treadmill the other day with my dear friends and mentors Stephanie and Kara, when Stephanie mentioned that I was really pounding the treadmill. “But I’m heavy footed” was my reply. Stephanie suggested that I try shortening my stride and increasing my cadence. I really didn’t understand what she meant, but being afraid of looking stupid, I also didn’t ask her to explain it either. I didn’t think I could increase my speed and maintain it . . . wasn’t that what she meant? Speed and cadence is the same, right?
A couple of days later, Stephanie’s words were ringing in my head as I stepped onto the treadmill for a lunchtime run. After I warmed up, I started taking shorter, quicker steps. In the beginning, I could only run like that for a minute or so, then I had to lengthen my stride and recover. I kept trying it though, and after a few days I was able to lengthen the time I could run like she suggested.
So I shortened my stride, now what about the cadence Stephanie mentioned? How do I increase that while shortening my stride. Turns out that it does it for you, or at least for me it did. I noticed in order to be comfortable on the treadmill while running with a short stride, I had to speed up the treadmill in order to adjust and avoid overrunning the treadmill belt. On my “normal” stride, I felt comfortable with a pace of 6.0 – 6.2 mph. With the shorter stride, that speed increased to 6.8 – 7.0.
I thought I was having problems with my Garmin watch, as it was showing that my cadence was approx. 165-170, and my time for a mile was under 8 minutes. I brushed it off as being incorrect due to treadmill running, and not running outside. I thought that this weekend I would try it out on the indoor track and see how it changes then.
Friday night I was at the Waukee YMCA, and decided it was time to try Stephanie’s suggestion on the track. To my amazement, I ran the first three miles effortlessly, posting times of 7:24, 7:52 and 7:52 respectfully. And I wasn’t finished! Mile four was slower (congested track) at 9:08, but mile five and six came in at 8:33 and 8:37. So other than the one mile where I had to wait for people to move, I stayed pretty consistent. I expected the time per mile to decrease, but it was a lot faster throughout than I could have hoped for. I usually hope to finish a 10k in an hour, or just over 10 min a mile. This time I finished a 10k at 50:59!
I hope to continue to increase the distance that I can keep the stride/cadence consistent. If I can, who knows what will come about as far as finishing times. Thanks to Stephanie for pointing that out to me, and to Kara for helping me understand it all.
Live healthy, be happy!