This morning the heat was on high outside as I headed out for my run. It was over 80 degrees before 7:00 AM. Fortunately it was cloudy, although humid. By the time I hit the mile two mark the rain came. I loved it. It was a light rain, enough to cool me down but not interfere with my run or worse yet, harm my iPhone that was strapped to my arm. Throughout my six mile run the skies would clear then sprinkle again. It was an “easy” run which actually is getting easier. I am getting faster at running slower, if that makes any sense. I was able to keep my heart rate within my target zone, run more, walk less, and run faster.
Since I am working on getting my cadence up to 180 steps per minute I tried a little pacing drill I read about. Just like in dancing it was a “three step” movement. Being able to take three steps a second would get me to 180 steps per minute. So I found myself doing two things: first thinking with each step quickly “One, two, three. One, two, three.” As each foot struck. Second I would strike the ground with determination on the one beat. My watch would show that my steps per minute on one foot ranged between 86 to 90 when I would do this. My pace picked up too. However so would my heart rate, so I would have to slow it down occasionally to bring my heart rate back within my target range. Now I am looking for music that matches the three step beat to help get me going. My only hope is that I don’t start doing a little dancing to the beat when cars are driving by…
Counting has become a common thread in my training. In the pool I am counting strokes with the goal to reduce strokes and reduce time. There actually is a name for this: SWOLF. Google it, I got 1,300,000 results. My Garmin Forerunner 910XT counts it too. It comes from smashing “swimming” and “golf” together and is calculated by adding the time it takes to cover a distance plus the number of strokes. Say I swim 25 meters in 28 seconds taking 24 strokes. My SWOLF for 25 meters is 52. Lower is better, so I should strive to reduce my score, just like in golf. I am counting steps now too on the run, but I want more steps in a minute and I want to run faster. To the best of my knowledge there is not a name for this. (Other than crazy for counting steps on a run.) Fortunately I do not count on the bike, other than the number of rude drivers that pass me.
This also reminds me of lyrics from a song I referenced I while back. “Teach us to count the days. Teach us to make the days count.” And that is what it is all about. Counting days, strokes, steps – are all important to accomplish goals. But also making the days, strokes, steps count. Even though we are in the dog days of summer and the sunlight lasts far longer than the night, days are still short. Each one should count, because each day we are given is the only day we know we have. Encouraging someone getting into fitness, pacing a slower runner just to spend time with a friend, or even just smiling at a stranger walking past – little things that help make it count. And hopefully motivates someone to pass it on.