I’ve been thinking about this post for a few days now. The other morning was a cold and dreary one. Odd because this time of year it’s starting to get notoriously hot by 9-10am. So I was sluggish getting out the door. It was supposed to be an easy 4-miler day. I was a little excited to do this nice loop (loops are the greatest) that takes place mostly on my comfortable paved trail, but the cold and damp was discouraging. In fact, I stepped out of my garage door, turned around, and went back in to change my outfit. So silly because it was probably 50 degrees out. Not that bad. Anywho, made it back out and shivered with my shoulders all hunched up for the next 5-10 minutes. However, I’m always glad when I get out, especially when it’s hard to do. This time in particular, ended up being an eerily beautiful morning. Low, thick clouds curled around my mountains. A muteness settled on the trail as I settled into my pace. It ended up being glorious.
As I ran I was reminded of an inspirational thought from a podcast I listen to. Something to the effect of, “if you’re comfortable with where you at in life, something needs to change.” Challenge is healthy for us. It is the only way we can grow. Muscles and mental strength too! With that thought I realized I was entirely too comfortable on my run and since I was wearing my trail shoes I decided to run along the side of my paved trail on the nicely manicured gravel/rock/dirt path. I focused on keeping my cadence high even though it was trickier footwork. I love running on this type of surface because it works the muscles around your joints a little differently, increasing stabilizer strength.
A side note on cadence… Cadence is the number of steps taken in a minute. Optimal cadence, in my opinion, and many others, is around 180 steps/minute. To test where you’re at, simply count the number of steps you take in a minute. If you’re somewhere around 140-150 steps/minute and struggling with injuries or wanting to get faster, work on increasing your cadence 10%/week. Messing with your form much more can be too much for your body to handle, so stick to that 10% gain/week. The importance of cadence lies in the fact that a quicker turnover causes us to typically have a smaller stride. Over-striding often causes our center of mass to fall somewhere behind where our foot is striking the ground. This is also often why many people who are primarily heel strikers and over-striders start having injuries in their knees, hips, etc. A large amount of breaking force accumulates in our joints when our center of mass doesn’t fall over where we strike the ground.
Do those hard things you know you need to. It’s most definitely worth it! Lace up your trainers and hit the asphalt. It’s simple-just one foot in front of the other 😉