Improving Your Running Cadence Range #RunFormFriday

Frequently when working with athletes to improve running efficiency, one of the main considerations is to reduce impact and braking forces on foot strike, by reducing the tendency to over stride (land the foot ahead of the centre of mass).

One of the most simple and highly effective ways to achieve this is to increase running cadence at a given pace.

Running Cadence Range

We often refer to an athlete’s cadence range. This refers to the natural differences shown in running cadence of an individual’s gait at an easy pace compared to a hard pace.

As discussed in a previous blog post, the “magic number” approach of striving to hit 90-92 strides per minute, regardless of running pace is fundamentally flawed when applied to endurance running: A runner will naturally run with a slightly slower rate of cadence when running “easy” compared to when running at a “hard” pace.

This is shown on the graphically represented example below.

Running Cadence

The key to improving efficiency through manipulating cadence is to shift the cadence range to the right by initially increasing it by 5%.

The “Easy Pace” cadence, previously 82spm will become 86spm, while the “Hard Pace” changes from 88spm to 92spm.

All of which will result in less over striding at a given pace, compared to the lower cadence version of the same pace.

Rather than trying to make major changes to you your cadence, 5% is a manageable change that won’t cause major muscle trauma, and should be more maintainable.

** Proper running technique is not “one size fits all” **

As always, I encourage your comments, experiences, and questions about cadence and technique in the comments section. See what’s up next week for our #RunFormFriday tip! For more in depth understanding on how to put this into practise, get in touch and we’ll see how we can help!

Swimming Straight #SwimTechTues

Swimming Straight

Swimming straight while in a swimming pool is easy. You’ve got a line to follow on the bottom of the lane. Swimming straight in open water is a little harder. Not only is there no line to follow, the likelihood is that the water is so murky you can’t see beyond the end of your arm! So how do you ensure that you swim straight?

First up, sighting is an important skill to learn, making sure that you are swimming on the right heading in any training or race. But the more you lift your head up to sight the more energy you will use and more drag you create for yourself.swimming straight

So how do you ensure that you swim straight without sighting too often?

The main thing to do is make sure that your stroke is as balanced and even as possible. Especially if you only breath to one side, you might find that your arms are doing different things.

Try this: swim a length (or as far as you can) without breathing. Watch for your hands coming through under the body. If you have a swim snorkel this would work just as well, you can get used to making sure everything is where it should be. Added to this, ensure that your kick is balanced and even, and that your core is set and working for you, to stop your hips swinging from side to side.

Doing these exercises, getting a feel for being as balanced and even as possible is key because without being able to view your stroke, you can never be quite sure that what you think you’re doing and what you are actually doing are the same!

The next exercise to try is swimming with your eyes closed. Make sure there is the space, and make sure you know how many strokes you take for a length. Push off the wall, eyes closed and swim steady. Put into practice the elements from the previous exercise – whether you do this no breathing, with a snorkel or breathing regularly, feel for where your hands/arms are in relation to your body. Swim to within 2 or 3 strokes of your normal length’s stroke count, open your eyes and finish the length. Did you manage to swim straight? If not, it’s time to work out what is pulling you off line.

You may well find that swimming straight is easy with no breathing, but when you introduce it into your stroke, that’s where things fall down – if so be aware that your hand may well pull across under you as you breath. For instance, if you breath to your left, as you breath your right hand might come across under your body (pulling the whole of you across to the left). The key here is to concentrate on trying not to over reach to breath, and keeping the pulling elbow up and out (as you no doubt do when not breathing).

 

swimming straight

This should help you go much further for each individual stroke, with less effort – and hopefully by swimming straight you will also be faster! If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to get in touch; either by email, facebook or leave a comment on here! Remember, you can always get your swimming reviewed in  the endless pool with our video swim analysis packages.

See what’s up next week for our #SwimTechTues tip!

Open Water Sighting #SwimTechTues

As the weather warms up and races are starting to spread across the country, more and more athletes are turning to their local lakes to get some open water practice. One of the biggest problems people have is swimming in a straight line, which means open water sighting becomes a key priority.

Open water sighting

Open Water Sighting

Keeping head movement to a minimum is really important when thinking about open water sighting. The more that the head moves around, the more likely that it is that the body will follow, and that swimming in a straight line will become less and less likely.

 

How To Do It

Press down with your hand on entry, and push your chin forward – rather than trying to lift everything straight up. If you try to solely lift, then it puts a lot of pressure on your neck and lower back. Then on the way back down, go straight back into your normal strong body position.

Open water sighting

Open water sighting

 How To Do It Really Well (The Fine Points)

Ensure that the head comes straight up, and goes straight back down. The less movement taken during open water sighting, the better. If you time your sighting with your breathing then you can make sure that you can get your mouth above the waterline. This way you can combine the two actions, and keep your head more steady.

 

This should help you go much further for each individual stroke, with less effort – and hopefully faster! If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to get in touch; either by email, facebook or leave a comment on here! Remember, you can always get your swimming reviewed in  the endless pool with our video swim analysis packages.

See what’s up next week for our #SwimTechTues tip!

Swim Faster, Less Effort #SwimTechTues

Swimming faster for less effort… that’s the dream isn’t it?! Actually it’s not as difficult or as far fetched as you might think. Try this as an experiment: do 2-3 100m reps with 30 seconds rest – aim to swim at around race pace. Now follow that up with another 2-3 100s with only 10 seconds recovery. For the majority of less comfortable swimmers, even the first 100 in the second set will be harder, let alone the second and third reps. What changes between the two sets? Stress and panic sets in…

670px-Save-an-Active-Drowning-Victim-Step-18Bullet2If you have your body position and kick all dialled in well, then these are less likely to fail as you get put under stress. With these two elements working properly, you’ll be using minimal energy to cut through the water. But they don’t really make you fast…

 

The part of your stroke that really makes a difference to the speed that you travel is what your arms do. Specifically the part where your hands are underwater and levering the body forwards. The speed of your recovery does very little to influence the speed that you travel. In fact, throwing your arms forward is likely to have a negative effect on your travel because it will push your body deeper into the water and cause you to brake. By launching your arm forward you will be forcing your head and shoulders down into the water. Very much in the same way as with a rowing stroke, the power phase of the stroke should be in proportion to the recovery, giving the boat – or the body – time to travel through the water.

Now with the power underwater, it really is a case of taking control of the water. If you rush, snatch or grab at the water, it won’t work with you, and things get far harder to control. Remember the saying “less haste, more speed”. If you’ve done any sculling drills, then you’ll know how you can get a hold of the water. The biggest problem for less comfortable swimmers is thinking that they have to keep moving and keep fighting the water to move forward. The reason why top sports people – Dan Carter, Johnny Wilkinson, Lionel Messi – or Phelps, Thorpe, Rebecca Adlington look so good at what they do, look like they have time, is because they recognise that they do have the time and slowing themselves down accordingly. That way, you can really take control of what you are doing and how you are doing it.

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This should help you go much further for each individual stroke, with less effort – and hopefully faster! If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to get in touch; either by email, facebook or leave a comment on here! Remember, you can always get your swimming reviewed in  the endless pool with our video swim analysis packages.

See what’s up next week for our #SwimTechTues tip!