Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Music To My Ears

What do you listen to while you're running? I've discovered, through trial and error, that the ideal beat of the music I'm listening to while I run is about 180 beats per minute. That's the beat where I can run most easily. If it's faster, I can't keep up and get tired more quickly; and if it's slower, I feel like I'm trudging along which takes more effort too.

I haven't found a great way to actually FIND the music with the right tempo for me - in other words, a way to search for songs with 180 beats per minute. So I've come up with the next best method to build my running playlist. First, as I'm listening to the radio or a CD or even when I hear a song in a movie or on TV, I whip out my stopwatch on my iPhone and clock the time it takes for 16 beats of the music. For my desired tempo, if it takes 5.2 seconds to 5.5 seconds to hear 16 beats, then the song qualifies to be on my playlist. The next step is to identify the song (if you don't already know the name of it) and for that I use the miraculous, free iPhone app called Shazam. The app returns the name of the song and then I can purchase it on iTunes and add it to my running playlist.

Now all that is great if you like the same tempo I do. But if you find that a slower or faster tempo is easier for you to run with, you need to figure out your ideal tempo/pace. Find a song you like to run to and use a stopwatch to see how many seconds elapse during 16 beats of your song. Now here's a little math, but don't let it scare you off:

16beats X 60seconds/minute = 960beats/minute
Now take 960 and divide by the number of seconds you got with your song.
This will be the number of beats per minute that you like to run to (your preferred tempo).

Now to keep you running at a fairly steady pace, you'll want to find more songs with a similar tempo to add to your playlist. So what DO you run to? Add your favorite songs to the comments.

Happy Running!

Addendum: check out http://bit.ly/2VYPc for pace-specific music! Thanks John at Hella Sound!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

One of My Favorite Gadgets

I have an iPhone app called Trail Guru. It's one of my necessities for running. As I'm running, it tracks and maps my run. Then I upload it to the Trail Guru website where it is stored. I can add notes about my run, view the map, see my pace vs. time and lots of other cool information. I'm posting the link to today's run.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

It Was Only 92 Degrees When I Set Out!

I sure hope the heat plays a factor in how far and fast I can run because I felt like a sloth out there today. It was 92 degrees when I started out (according to my iPhone app) and 99 degrees when I came in. What's so amazing about that to me is that when I'm in the shade (even for a moment), I feel like I can keep running, but when I'm in the beating-down-sun, I feel like I just can't go another step.
Today I ran 3.5 miles but it felt like FIVE! I'm going to break each of these posts down into how I ran each mile so I can eventually look back and hopefully see some improvement over time. Mile #1 - I ran 90 seconds and walked 30 seconds; Mile #2 and #3 - I ran 60 seconds and walked 30 seconds (although there were a couple of times that I walked a little longer); and the part of Mile #4 that I did, I ran for 60 seconds and then walked until my heartrate was back down to 75% of my max.

My mental cues today:

I concentrated on keeping my head upright and my chest out for a larger breathing capacity. I used my breathing cadence that I talked about before, exhaling on every fifth step. As I mentioned before, Bernadette felt dizzy when trying to do this and I said that you have to concentrate just on the exhalation rather than on the inhalation. An asthmatic might understand this because you have to get to the completion of an exhalation in order to have the capacity for a complete inhalation, and this is what is difficult for asthmatics since they have an obstructive component to their ventilation which prevents them from completely exhaling, leading to their diminished capacity for a complete inhalation.

Proper breathing technique can better be illustrated if you examine the breathing of a singer (or an instrument player.) Have you ever seen a little "comma" marked in music?

It indicates the place in the music that the composer wants you to take a breath. If you know anything about music at all, you can see that there isn’t a rest or any actual break in the tempo so it has to be a very rapid inhalation in order to be ready for the next note on time. If this breath mark comes after a long phrase, you will have “used up” all your reserve at this point and you’ll be able to inhale more deeply.

So if you’re practicing my “breathing cadence” method, concentrate on exhaling for most of the five steps and then take a quick, deep breath for your inhalation. I think you’ll notice a more efficient, fuller inhalation without feeling dizzy.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

800 calories with Tennis and 200 with running

I thought I was playing tennis first thing in the morning but Gabi was sick. So I decided I'd run OUTSIDE since it was only 85 degrees at 8am. I'm not a morning runner though - never have been, much as I'd like to be. But I did go ahead and get dressed in my running clothes and get all my paraphernalia ready and as I was sitting on the bottom step of my stairs putting on my shoes I decided I just didn't have it in me to go running. So as I sat there, I dialed the tennis court and reserved a ball machine for about an hour later. I don't know what it is, but I can play tennis first thing in the morning, even though I just can't quite make myself run in the morning.

Luckily, after an hour and a half on the ball machine (800 calories burned), I was able to hop on the treadmill for just a couple of miles (another 200 calories burned)!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Running At a Higher Altitude

I ran 3 miles in Pinetop, AZ on Sunday. Mark warned me that the altitude might make it harder so I purposefully kept it a little slower. Most of my repetitions were to run for one minute and then walk just long enough to recover. Overall, my time was no slower than usual.

I continued to concentrate on my breathing cadence. I exhale on every fifth step which means it's on the opposite foot every time. I read that the most impact, and therefore the most opportunity for injury, occurs with the exhale, so by alternating the foot that is striking at the time of each exhale, I'm limiting the potential for injury to any particular side.

The other thing that cadence helps me with is keeping track of how long I'm running each cycle. I don't have to keep track with my watch because I know that if I'm exhaling every fifth step, I will exhale about 30 times each minute, so I just count the exhales. That is dependent on the music and tempo I have set which is about 160-180 beats per minute.

When I explained this breathing-cadence to Bernadette and she tried it, she said she got dizzy. I think the key is to ONLY concentrate on the exhale. If you concentrate on exhaling every fifth step, but then you also inhale for a few steps, I think you will get dizzy and the overall ventilation will be all wrong. By only concentrating on the exhale, the natural reflex will be to quickly recover with an inhalation.

The thing I did notice in Pinetop was that the temperature makes a HUGE difference. I thought it made a difference, but didn't know how much. My run on Sunday was MUCH easier than any three miles I've done in Phoenix in a very long time.

Hopefully soon, I'll be able to work on improving speed!

Here's the link for Sunday's run.