Some people listen to music when they run. But you can't really do it in races, so I generally avoid it. Some people listen to the music in their heads, which can be helpful come race day. In training, that often devolves into endless repeats of the most annoying music on earth. Most recently, that has meant Ke$ha and The Addams Family theme song (thank you David Wachtel.)
So what do I do instead? Lately, I've been counting silently, as in 1-2-1-2-1-2-1-2-1-2-1-2... for what seems like hours on end. I'm sure you've done the same at some point, to keep that cadence high and your gait efficient. Since my buddy Greg Moe taught me about the value of maintaining between 180-184 steps per minute when running, it's all I can think about on the course. I've improved to where I can maintain a 90-92 left-foot steps per minute pace on a consistent basis, and now feel comfortable enough working with my buddy John to help him get there as well.
John and I met at Griffith Park this morning at 7 for a lightly-paced run focused on technical training and form. When we started our first cadence drill, John was around 80 one-foot steps per minute. However, I should first preface this by indicating that is working for John. He placed second in his age group at a 10k in Encino last weekend, earning a handshake and a medal from none other than Rafer Johnson. Yep, THAT Rafer Johnson (are there others though?). So, John doesn't really need running tutelage per se. We just wanted to experiment if we could make John run faster, with higher cadence, while keeping his heart-rate the same.
And we did.
By the end of our six-mile jog, John was running well ahead of me while maintaining a steady heart-rate...and his cadence jumped 10 steps per minute to a consistent 90. Well done!
Though John went much faster than me, it was like I was running faster as well. I'm not saying I've caught the coaching bug by any stretch. But I admit to taking a certain amount of pride in watching John smile and enjoy his run just a bit more, and feeling a sense of accomplishment.
Maybe when all this training and racing subsides a bit, perhaps one day I will try to coach more. If it's anything like what I felt today, then it just might be the best-kept secret of triathlon -- coaching is as good as racing.
69 days and counting.