What 4th Grade Math, Grizzly Bears, And Your Running Speed Have In Common!

POSTED BY : Nate Helming

sydney2000-gebrselassietergat-10k

What if I told you that anyone can run as fast as a world champion marathoner.

 

You’d probably spit out your coffee in response, but I’m serious. You, yes YOU, can run as fast as Haile Gebrselassie, a 2:03:59 marathoner, Olympic gold medalist, and world record holder.

 

Granted you might not be able to sustain that speed for a long period of time (ok even a short period of time), but I bet you could do it for 10 feet, and a little further if a Grizzly Bear was chasing you.

 

Which brings us to our most important #1 rule to fast distance running. If you understand this maxim, I mean truly take it to heart and apply it to your training, your outlook, heck even your life, you will be WAY ahead of the curve.

 

You ready?

 

The number one secret to running fast is this:

 

It’s not about running fast. It’s about NOT slowing down.

 

And our first step to understanding how not to slow down doesn’t involved the track, or the weight room…those will come later.

 

It involves paper and a pencil and the world’s simplest math equation:

 

Run Speed = Stride Frequency X Stride Length

Stride frequency is really stride rate or cadence, i.e. the number of times you foot hits the ground in 60 seconds. Stride length is more self explanatory, it’s the length of each of those steps.

 

Run with really big strides at a really fast rate and chances are you’re chasing down your commuter bus. Taking short steps at a really slow rate and chances are you’re trudging uphill through deep snow. Yeah no sprinting going on here.

 

And when it comes to YOU running faster, it boils down to making very small tweaks to the above equation.

 

Most of us start at a given speed, feeling great. But as fatigue and distraction sets in, we slow down. Ok, no duh you say. Well it’s HOW we slow down that’s most important.

 

Most of us slow down very subtly with a very small shift in our cadence. Our 90 steps a minute turns into 88, 87…86 or to 40 (if we start to walk). Now chances are we haven’t increased our stride length because hey we’re tired as all get out. So what that means is this: you 8 min mile has turned into an 8:03, 8:07, 8:10 or a 20+ min mile when the bottom falls out.

 

Remember, running fast is about NOT slowing down. And our #1 tip there is training ourselves to maintain a higher cadence, no matter what speed we’re running at.

 

In this respect, a metronome is the WORLD’s best running coach that will almost guarantee a PR on your next race if you run with it 1-2 times per week ahead of your next race.
Don’t think so? Run for 20 minutes with a metronome set to 90+  and you’ll see just how hard it is to maintain that rhythm for an extended period. You’ll see EXACTLY how easy it is to slow down just as the going gets tough. Dollars to doughnuts it’s your cadence that’s at the center of it all.

 

Now you can manually count your steps for a minute a few times during your run, and this helps you establish what your base cadence is. A metronome with an audible “beep” goes about a million steps further however as it teaches and trains you to maintain certain rhythms for certain periods of time and to increase both cadence and duration of said cadence for even more efficient speedy running.


Want to master the hilly hard stuff?
You’ve nailed the flats but fall apart as the road goes up or down.

 

A metronome teaches you how to shift gears from uphill to downhill to rolling terrain and everything in between. Simply put the mental and physical focus of maintaining a given cadence, preferably somewhere from the high 80’s to the mid 90’s, demonstrates just how many changes in your stride length needs to happen and how well grooved all these gears need to be to set your next Strava climb PR.

 

Cadence aside, are you in a pre-injured state?

Now running with a higher cadence involves a whole heap of grace and flow. Seeing how a big part of our days have become very UN-athletic, this is easier said than done. In fact, we straight up do a poor job taking care of ourselves let alone making physical improvements.

 

And just like that, you’re no longer concerned with running faster. You’re actually concerned with running without limping.

ARE YOU PRE-INJURED?
TAKE OUR PINCH TEST ASSESSMENT

For those who aren’t in pain right now  you’re not out of the woods. It doesn’t guarantee you won’t be in pain tomorrow…or next week. But running injuries don’t have to be left to fate. In fact, what if you could peek into your running future?

 

Not sure what I’m talking about?

 

We made a simple test for you to assess your body, i.e. whether or not you’re in a pre-injured state. We’ll show you the test and give you some tips on how to physically improve the body and get back on the right path BEFORE an injury sidelines you.

 

Send Me the Pinch Test Squat Assessment Video!

You want to take this test. Trust me. It’s easy and like the metronome, it will pretty much make you a better runner right now. And there’s not that many things we can say that work so darn quick.

 

So you now have the understanding, the awareness, and the means to outrun Grizzly Bears and shoulder to shoulder with the world’s best! Go forth and conquer!

 

Beep, beep, beep….

 

Nate

  • Mike C

    Great post! You mention uphill and downhill. Would you recommend trying to keep the same cadence (assuming it is safe) going up or downhill and let the naturally shorter stride of an uphill or longer stride of a downhill take care of the pacing for these? In the past on uphills, I tended to slow my cadence a little while on downhills, I just let my legs spin and my cadence/pace would skyrocket.

    • Nate Helming

      hey mike! sorry for the delay in replying. Yes it’s a good idea to keep your turnover pretty high on the downhills. It takes a bit more effort at first but your body adapts AND you’ll feel less beat up next time you transition to flats and back up hills!