April 26, 2011

May the Fast Be With You!

Running cadence too slow?  I've got a little trick for picking up the pace.  I think most of us have noticed that if a fast song comes on while running you tend to speed up and slower songs rein you in.  As I started running more and more I started playing with my running mixes and would put the songs the "sped me up" together on one mix.  Later, I realized they were all around the same bpm (beats per minute):  180.

There's a certain amount of controversy over running cadence (or biking cadence for that matter).  The typical arguments for it are that it shortens your stride, decreases heel impact, reduces knee injuries and results in a more efficient stride.  Some people agree, some think it's a bunch of bananas.  I'm not gonna get into it.  I will simply can say that faster songs help me on training runs.  (I never race with music.)  They keep me distracted, give me energy and sometimes push me more than I would have on my own.

So... If you're interested, I've found 2 tricks to making running mixes at a fast bpm.  The lazy efficient way is to use Podrunner.  DJ Steve Boyett has created multiple hour long techno mixes at different bpms.  I generally stick with the four he has at 180, but he got mixes from 130-180.  You can get them from his webpage or download them for free through iTunes.

Alternatively, you can make your own mixes.  I use MixMeister to analyze the bpm of my music, but there are a lot of programs out there.  Keep in mind that MixMeister doesn't work for .m4a audio files.  For those files, you can use a "tapper" program like WinBPM (I've never used that program, so I'm not sure how good it is.  It's just an example.) and manually "tap" out the beat of a song.  Not the most efficient, but it works if you have a song or two you think are in the right range and want to confirm.

Another easy way is to simply google "180 bpm music," for example.  You'll find that many people have already posted lists of songs at different bpms so you can piggy back of their hard work and use it as a guide for mixes.  Remember that songs at half the bpm work as well.  If the bpm is listed as "90," it'll work for a 180 cadence.  The beat will match each strike for one foot, rather than with each step.  For example, you can match your left foot hitting the ground with the beat, as opposed to the beat matching when both your left and right foot strike.

My gift to you is a song I've been rocking to on runs recently.  And, yes... it's at 180 bpm.

May the fast be with you!


  1. Very timely post - I've been reading a LOT about 180 bpm in general and as a possible solution to my heel pain. Thanks for sharing. Quick question - do you recommend just jumping into this pace or do you think it's something to build up to (i.e. start with some 120's then 140's then eventually work your way to 180's - I'm slow so I didn't know if it would be too much to jump right in or . . . do you start with 180's but just do them for a little distance and increase the distance). Sorry to ask a long dumb question. I want to improve and it appears 180's might be the answer.

  2. THANK YOU SO MUCH for your awesome answer. I really appreciate the time you took to address it. I think it was good advice as well. My heel pain is going on 11 years, but your advice was very timely. I was just talking to my running partner about adding a 5th half marathon in August that way we could just keep our mileage up throughout the summer. I think we'll just go back to a more manageable mileage and do something along the lines you suggested - more runs, lower mileage. I'm definitely interested in trying some of the suggestions you gave for cadence. After this 5/21 half, I will definitely be working on it. Thanks again - I know you're super busy. I really appreciate it! (and - thanks for reading!)

  3. Thank you for your comment on my blog today. You are right, not all vegetarians are lacking protein. I just see so many who are, so I tend to include vegetarians in my list of people who "are at risk" for lack of protein.
    I appreciated your comment!

  4. I LOVE PodRunner. I find that 173-176 is about perfect for me ... I've had some really good PRs to his music, but something about it feels kind of superficial. I'm trying to run with less music lately. :)

  5. I'm going to download that Jamie Foxx song. He's cheesy but you gotta love some JT!

    Great post! I've never really thought much about BPMs but now I'm curious how it may help my pace.