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Simple cadence fix to improve your running

Minute 1: A word or two or more about running cadence

At the 2018 Chicago Marathon expo, amateur runners tried to replicate the world record pace of Eliud Kipchoge on a treadmill for just a minute or two. The results produced some epic fails and a viral video that has been watched more than 16,000,000 times. (If you’d like to try this at home, you basically just have to set your treadmill to 13 MPH.) While it’s a bad idea to imitate Kipchoge’s pace, it is much wiser to match his cadence of 180 strides per minute. Elite runners moving along at the appropriate cadence look almost like they’re floating on a cloud of air with their feet barely tapping the ground. Ideal cadence numbers depend on several factors, although a generally accepted number is 180, with a plus or minus factor of 10. Many GPS watches will measure your cadence for you, but a simple way to measure it is by setting a timer to 60 seconds and counting how many times your left foot hits the ground then double that number. Runners in the 140-160 range are more likely to increase braking forces at the point of foot strike and to increase the heel striking angle, according to research at the Running Clinic, which provides this helpful: “Questions and Answers about running cadence.” In a piece entitled “The optimal cadence and stride length for runners,” the Running Coach suggests there is not only one perfect running rate because of the difference in body measurements, especially height. Those working to increase cadence should go at it slowly. Running coach and biomechanist Adam St. Pierre says the 180 steps per minute number is a good target for some runners but argues that appropriate running cadence relates to speed. At 5 miles per hour, he reasons, a range of 160-170 is a better target: “Run Faster With Less Effort With These Four Adjustments.” #DoA180

Minute 2: Pressed for time? Short workouts can provide significant benefits

Even with the time we’ve saved on commuting this year, plenty of other distractions and responsibilities seem to Tonya Harding our workout plans. Zoom calls, home schooling, nesting chores and plain old procrastination can be rougher on our goals than Jeff Gillooly. Scheduling a time and place for prolonged workouts is often a challenge. The good news is that a quickie workout can stress the core and upper and lower body and allows you to work up a sweat in limited minutes. Experts have shown that short, brisk workouts can have numerous benefits. Adidas has a good blog post on this issue: “Do Short Workouts Really Make a Difference?” The short answer is that if you make an 8-10 minute workout really intense (think sprints, not jogs) you can see real value. The Journal of Obesity reported that high-intensity intermittent exercise may be more effective at reducing body fat, and other studies have shown that short workouts show fitness improvements: “8 Mini Workouts That Work Your Whole Body.” Men’s Journal offers a list of “no-frills” training tips that will make your attempts to build strength much simpler: “10 Strength Training Strategies That Will Never Die.” Bodyweight workouts (which can be done without equipment or going to the gym), and lifting weights both build muscle, but using your own body -- versus weights -- has some advantages: “Strength Training: Bodyweight Exercises versus Weight Training.” #SpeedWork

Minute 3: Building a stronger back

Anyone who has experienced the joy of a herniated disk or chronic back pain may have opted for elective root canal if they’d been given the choice. It’s not just long haul truckers and desk jockeys who experience back issues. Elite endurance athletes are not immune from back ailments. There are many exercises designed for back health. Most veterans of the gym know that the first line of back defense is the dumbbell row. Learn more about this exercise that enhances back muscles and contributes to posture stability: “The 8 Best Dumbbell Row Variations To Build A Stronger Back.” You may also want to investigate “10 Back Exercises That Develop Strength.” If the whole weight scene isn’t your thing, check out “The 10 Best Yoga Poses for Back Pain.” If you hang around athletes who devote themselves to development of the entire body, you may have heard the term “posterior chain.” Work on the back provides structural support for the entire body, particularly because exercises targeted for other areas -- for example, deadlifts and squats -- depend on a strong back. Workouts targeting the abs and the back have something in common -- results can be slow to be seen. It isn’t obvious that some of the smaller muscles in the back are responding to targeted exercises, but, done properly, there will be growth over time. It’s also important to fit in some compound back exercises to address the full spread of the area: “The 12 Best Compound Back Exercises for a Full Back Workout.” #BasicBack

Minute 4: Food for the sole -- don’t go running on empty

Endurance trail running comes with a must list. In addition to stamina, awareness of conditions/terrain, and proper pacing, there is the matter of food. Except on race day, there are no buffets or vending machines out there on the rocky mountain sides, so many runners carry their own chow. Of course gels and energy bars are popular solutions, but those make us feel as if we’re consuming something developed in a laboratory rather than a kitchen. That’s why we were happy to come across this piece from Outbound: “8 Trail Running Snack Hacks.” Women’s Running weighs in on the subject with “How to Fuel Long Runs with Real Food.” We also like many of the options on this list: “Top 10 Trail Running Superfoods.” Many of these suggestions apply to long runs on the road, of course, but the generally slower pace through the hills allows the digestive system to process foods with less bodily stress. Generally speaking, the simpler the better for faster-paced long runs on asphalt. #TrailMix

Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • We love logging miles on Strava and appreciate some of the privacy features the company has added over the years, like concealing your home location by blocking out the exact point of your run/ride starts and finishes. A new research report, however, points out that “Running apps still lag behind on privacy and security,” including Strava. Part of the problem is that many apps still allow athletes to use passwords like “1234” or “password.” None of the most popular apps allow 2-factor authentication, although Runtastic generally received the best marks on security and privacy.

  • Not to get too personal, but have you smelled your armpits lately? That … distinct .. aroma is related to bacteria, and it might have the smell of onions. Where does underarm odor come from, anyway? Sweat is the bad guy here. It mingles with the bacteria on the skin to produce an odor. One study involved swabbing the underarms (sounds fun, right?) of 24 men and women, and among the findings was that people who did not use antiperspirants had 50X more bacteria than those who did. Some of the fun odors labeled were “sulfury-cat urine,” “acid-spicy” and “fresh onion.” On your way to the drugstore deodorant aisle, check out this story from LIVESTRONG: “This Is Why Your Armpits Smell Like Onions.”

  • Hunger is a nearly constant companion for many long-distance runners, particularly those who have recently increased their training. The additional miles -- training for a half marathon instead of a 5K, for example -- may produce faster times, but can also induce “runger.” Dr. Beth Mansfield, a certified exercise physiologist and sports nutrition specialist, said hunger after running arises differently depending on who you are and the type of run you’re completing. Hunger levels will vary depending on the duration and intensity of the run and the timing of your last meal before the run. Typically, she says it’s important to eat a snack or a meal within the recovery window after running: “Solving the mystery of ‘runger’.”

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

How do you stay motivated during your run or ride? Some people crank up the jams, others repeat a mantra to themselves and a select few fly down a mountainside trying to outrun a large black bear that’s chasing you. Our daily inspirational video, first posted on the Montana Knife Company’s account, comes from the town of Whitefish, Montana. As we approach warmer weather, this video serves as a good reminder that when you step out into the wilderness be sure to pay close attention and respect your surroundings. Based on the clip, it's unclear if the bear was actually charging the rider or just running scared itself, but thankfully the cyclist (and bear) escaped unscathed. Due to rising black bear populations and humans expanding more into their natural habitats, these types of interactions have become more common. The Humane Society has some good advice on “What to do about black bears.” They can be easily scared away by standing your ground and making yourself look and sound as big as possible (this procedure differs for their much larger and bolder counterpart, the grizzly bear). If you are planning to hit the trails this summer, Trail Runner magazine offers a good overview of what to do and what not to do amidst bears, mountain lions and rattlesnakes in “Wildlife Safety for Runners.”

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