Friday, April 20, 2012

Fortnightly Fitness Fridays - A Sweat Pink Post

For a little while now I have been aware that I present this blog as being about "food, health, fitness..." (and so on, see column to the right) but post on fitness and exercise relatively rarely. I have some posts on the topic of course, but they appear intermittently and with no particular structure.

This blog is never going to be all, or even mostly, about fitness. That's just not what I enjoy writing about the most. I like talking about food, and creating new dishes, and sharing the results. At the same time, exercise is a major part of my life, and a part that I consider instrumental in keeping me sane. I would like to mention it a little more than I currently do.

Recently, a solution to this minor dilemma landed in my lap. The lovely co-founders of Fit Approach asked if I would be interested in being one of their 'Sweat Pink Ambassadors'.


To give you a sense of the philosophy behind Fit Approach, I'd like to share a quote from their website:

"Do you have a passion for inspiring others on their journeys to health? Do you believe that strong is the new skinny, pink is the new black, and that a positive attitude and whole foods are a healthier route to happiness than self-loathing and 100-calorie snack packs?" [Source]

The last part, in particular, rings absolutely true for me. It is incredibly nice to be connected to like-minded women, and to know that a group has been created to promote this philosophy.

With this Fit Approach involvement, it seemed like a good time to organise the way I approach exercise-related topics on this blog. My goal? From now on, once a fortnight on a Friday, I will do a fitness-related post. These are likely to be varied and linked to whatever activities I've been doing or thinking about over the previous 2 weeks. The activities may be formal or informal, exercise in the high-intensity sense or just a walk or cycle outdoors somewhere.



Today, I thought I'd share some of what I've been reading lately about running stride or cadence. I've never thought a lot about how many steps I take each minute when I run - I pay attention to how far and how fast, but not my specific stride rate.

It turns out, there is a remarkable amount written on 'optimal' cadence, where cadence is the number of steps you take per minute. It is accepted that everyone is going to run slightly differently, but striking around 180 steps per minute, 90 on each foot, is believed to be more efficient than lower stride rates, and to reduce the likelihood of injury whilst also increasing running performance. Not surprisingly, therefore, it is a cadence that is common to elite runners.

To clarify what 180 strides per minute feels like, in one second you would need to have your left foot hit the ground, then your right food, and then your left foot again. In other words, it is quick! Most people don't run at that rate naturally, and doing so requires your legs to stay close to your body and for each step to make contact with the ground only briefly. This, in part, is what accounts for the lower injury rate with this quicker stride.

I was curious to know what my 'natural' cadence is, so I set out to count my strides on a treadmill this week. My most comfortable speed when running is 11 km / hour (6.8 miles / hour), and so I set the treadmill to that speed and counted my foot strikes for a minute. I did this a few times and counted about 160 quite consistently. 

I then adjusted my stride to make three steps to one second, and was able to run at a cadence of 180 without too much difficulty. It did feel odd, but manageable. And the impressive thing was, it also did feel better. I had to shorten my steps quite noticeably, but it felt lighter and smoother and I could imagine running that way over long distances. I'm not sure how I will go without the timer of the treadmill to guide me, but it is definitely something I'll be paying attention to. If it can help my knees and hips stay uninjured, it will certainly be an adjustment that would be worth the effort!

If you run, do you know what your stride rate is? Or had you heard of 180 steps being a recommended number?

I'd also love to hear your thoughts on how these fortnightly fitness posts unfold. If you have suggestions or ideas, please let me know!

29 comments:

  1. Hello there, good to meet via the Fitness Friday blog hop. This is interesting for me. I'm a learner runner, did C25K for first time last year. But currently hampered by sore knees sadly.

    I must read up more on this and test myself on the running machine. 11kmph sounds fast!

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    1. I share the pain of sore knees :( I am hoping this 180 strides per minute thing might help. And thanks for dropping by - nice to meet you too!

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  2. Oopsies, I got that email too but thought it was one of the many not-legitimate emails of the type that I get! :S Teehee, I'm glad they found you for this; you're a far better fit than my sporadic exerising but constant nut-butter bingeing self :P

    Cadence, to me, has always been a musical term. But it does make sense as fitness related, the way you describe it. Learn something new every day xo

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    1. Teehee, it was made easier for me by the fact I'd already seen their site :) And also, I suspect you get many more of the spam-related emails than I do, so sifting then would be more challenging!

      Cadence as music and in running have a sort of sense actually. Music is more soothing though!

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  3. I have never determined my stride rate...all I know is it's gotta be pretty darn slow! haha

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    1. So is mine when I run more than 20 minutes or so :P It's hard to focus on all the different components of running when you actually try to do so!

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  4. Kari, we are so glad to have you in our community and helping us spread the Sweat Pink love from down under! Very interesting running info you post! Enjoy your weekend and Sweat Pink!:)

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    1. Thank you Jenn! It's been so great getting involved :)

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  5. hmm i just run and run without knowing my stride rate actually. need more guidance from you :)

    Latest: Best Milk Ever

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    1. I'm usually the same! It's hard trying to get it right now I"m thinking about it.

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  6. Wow fascinating post, thankyou! And Sweat Pink sounds interesting indeed. One of my biggest issues with the programs around the place are those that are all about 'diet' foods.

    I'm a BIG believer in whole foods for whole people (as my thermomix will attest ;)) and am looking forward to growing a lot more of our own food after we move.

    I'll keep an eye out for them for sure.

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    1. Me too - diet foods and health are not a compatible match in my view! I'm so excited you have a thermomix too, I am very in awe of them :) I'll look forward to checking out how you get on with growing things!

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  7. yay for sweat pink! I love this!

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    1. Oh, thank you :) It is a great philosophy they have.

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  8. I've never been good at formal exercise and never understood running but I like the idea of cadence - it makes it sound more of an artform than just sheer exhaustion and pain :-)

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    1. I used to not understand running either :) It still amazes me that I now love it. But yes, cadence does make it sound more arty and less sweaty!!

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  9. Go Pink Sweat! No wait; yay Sweat Pink! My hubs went to physio and learned to run 180 bpm...it corrected all of his posture issues that led to pain :) I have changed my stride but I haven't determined my cadence.

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    1. What a great success story with your husband! Perhaps I should consider getting professional guidance if I get stuck with doing it myself. It certainly sounds like a worthwhile switch to make!

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  10. woot woot, sweat pink pride!! :) it's so funny, u and me are the opposites, i could talk fitness all day but never post on anything i bake/cook because i CAN'T do either...hehe! that's one reason i like to read (drool) over ur posts. but i'm excited to see some fitness seep into here too. :) cadence is a tricky thing to adjust and it just takes a lot of time and practice at. i tend to overstride; but i worked on that a lot and it helps to check in and see where i'm at every now and again. so i just count my steps sometimes in the middle of a run to make sure i'm on track. great post!

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    1. Thank you Cait! We'll complement each other and you can provide me with running info to my food pictures :P It's interesting to hear everyone's approaches to cadence - I have found it much harder to adjust when off the treadmill but I'll keep working at it for sure.

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  11. I've never really thought about it to be honest - but now I'm going to experiment on my own. Wonderful idea to do a 'fitness Friday" post

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    1. Thanks Liz - and enjoy experimenting!

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  12. Hi Kari,

    I heard this a little while back when I was getting serious about running (prechildren and injury) There are even songs/podcasts that you can download that are aimed at pacing to this stride rhythm. I found it a bit fast for me personally but I'm sure with good running fitness and time that it would work well.

    xxAndj

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    1. Thanks for that tip Andj - music would help a lot I imagine. Much easier than trying to count steps and seconds simultaneously, that is for sure! Thank you :)

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  13. Yay #Sweat Pink Luv! I love the recipe! even though i try to eat clean most of the time, we have to have room for treats and chocolate is one of my faves! Thank you for participating the the blog hop!

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    1. Thanks to you too! Chocolate is one of my favourite treats too, although I confess to usually jumping over cake and straight to chocolate :P

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  14. I'm definitely not a runner. However, I tried to take it up last Easter (and then my knee started hurting, so I said I would start when I got new shoes, and I haven't yet!) and felt like my running was really noisy - my feet were slapping on the ground. So I looked up things about how to run, and it is pretty amazing just how much extremely detailed information is available about running on the internet!

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