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Using a pedometer for running

September 26, 2010

Most people have a set training program that includes running and strength training. Smart people also include cross-training such as biking, swimming or similar activities. I admit that I am lax on the strength training. As a former gym rat, I just really hate using weights. As a former dancer, I’m much more into using my own body weight as resistance  — similar to Pilates.  What I never previously considered was the importance of walking as part of my training. The Jewish Holidays started at the beginning of September. Most people are familiar with Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, but are less familiar with the holidays of Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah. Without going into detail, I can’t exercise on the holidays.  However I can go for walks and I do — lots of them. Since we don’t drive on the holidays, I walk to and from services, which is 1.5 miles round trip. This means I walk anywhere from 2.25 miles to 4.5 miles each day. Not bad mileage and it’s a great way to stay on track with my training.

Recently I got a MIO Pacer pedometer from MIO Watch (www.miowatch.com).  Lots of people know the benefits of a pedometer. A healthy goal to take 10K steps each day.  By using a pedometer you know where you stand with that goal. I take mine everywhere and use it even in the house. So, how does this help with my running?

I have a weak left hip flexor. I recently read in an article that hip flexors are weakened by constant sitting. I sit in front of a computer sometimes for 10 hours a day or more, and I can get into a zone where I don’t move for hours. By taking the time to glance at my pedometer, I’m reminded to get up and move around. [I’m very goal oriented so making the 10K steps each day is a big deal to me.]

So, here’s the cool thing I discovered today that helped me with my running. Carrying the pedometer on my run allowed me to track and work on my foot turnover. I did was make a mental note of how many steps were recorded, and then I timed a specific distance (I currently have a MIO Breeze). At the end of the timed period, I calculated how many steps I took.  The result — I ran the last 2 miles of my 5 mile run in 10:30 and 9:09 minutes per mile — faster than I ran any of the first 3 miles.

So how did I come up with this crazy idea, especially during the middle of a long run? Since I was getting a bit fatigued from being “heavy footed” I decided to focus on my form and turnover. The Pacer keeps track of my footfalls anyway, so I thought I’d try it out. The Pacer is light and credit card thin so holding it in my hand was easy. The payoff — the faster the turnover, the faster I went. And the better my turnover, the better my form and the less tired I felt. How’s that for a bonus?!

Going forward I’m going to use the pedometer when I do interval training instead of for longer distances. It’s really hard to do math and figure out how many steps you’ve taken while you’re trying to get your heart rate down to an aerobic state (LOL).

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