A few years back I ran a 5K race in 27:45, setting a new personal record for myself. I was proud of myself for achieving that mark. At the same time, I felt that I had maxxed out — I thought I’d never run faster than that. After all, I was continuing to get older, and I didn’t envision myself putting in the level of training effort it would take to reach a higher hurdle.
But recently I learned something new about running that showed me how wrong I was. My running guide Mo shared with me a strategy that top runners use: Baby Steps.
The key is to increase my running cadence — the number of steps I’m taking per minute — by taking shorter steps. The exact cadence that’s ideal is going to vary from runner to runner. But a good place to start is with a cadence of 180. That means my left leg has to plant 90 times per minute.
It seemed counter-intuitive to me. But I hunted down some music that had a tempo of 90 beats per minute, and went out for a trial run.
It felt weird at first. Like I was flapping my wings rapidly without much purpose. But it sure worked.
Almost instantly, I found myself running about 15 seconds per mile faster. Without having improved my cardiovascular conditioning at all. As I fatigued during a longer run, I tried to adjust by maintaining my rapid cadence and shorten my step even more.
Recently, I clocked a 5K run in 27:05. (Of course, the bad news is, now that I’m so near to the target, I’ve got to get under 27 minutes!)
All from baby steps. Try it.
Pretty interesting. And leave it to an old dancer to go find some music to move your feet to when running!