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How To Track Your Performance Using a Metronome

When you make the decision to monitor your running pace through track training, a metronome to accompany that process can deliver some amazing results. The proper definition of a metronome is “any device that produces regular metrical ticks, settable in beats per minute”.

Musicians commonly use metronome, yet anyone needing to regulate their pace in music, sport, dance, or another timed movement can benefit from the use of a metronome. The metronome was designed to regulate tempo and timing, and what more efficient way to utilize this than on the track. Read more on how to gauge your performance on the track using a metronome.

How To Track Your Performance Using a Metronome

There are several types of metronomes from a dozen different manufacturers. The key is to choose one that you want to comfortably wear on your wrist, or have someone else (say, a coach) monitor your timed intervals and pacing on the track. Another metronome that is often seen in natatoriums is the very large-scaled standup timing device that is visible from a long distance away.

Seiko DM50S Clip Digital Metronome

Seiko DM50S Digital Metronome

This can be set up trackside as well. But, if you plan to run solo intervals on the track, the best choice is to have a coach time your stride and pace with the handheld metronome. Garmin, a popular manufacturer of sports watches and timing devices, make excellent metronome that is easy to use and not too expensive to purchase although the Seiko DM50S digital metronome is our favorite. If you know how you plan to use the timer, then choosing one that appropriately matches your needs is best.

If you have a coach, which is definitely a step in the right direction with improvement of your running performance, they will equip themselves with a solid quality timer to ensure that your speed is maintained with the beats per minute.

It is all about rhythm. Here’s where using a metronome on the track helps overall with your running and training. Any misaligned step is detected when pacing to a timer. In other words, if you have been running intervals on the track, and under the impression that you are being consistent with your pace, a metronome might offer somewhat of a shell shock, as it keeps you more than accountable with your performance.

Having your tempo runs timed makes an enormous difference in how you run and train.  If you are suffering from any imbalances in hips, posture, core or feet, using a metronome for runner can help you to understand your running economy. When the hips are out of alignment, or the posture is not up to par, or the core is weak, or your feet are over-pronating, supinating, or taking too large a step, the metronome can put you back into rhythm as it’s primary goal is to make sure that you are responsible for being consistent in your running pace and training.

When there is no personal coach to attend to your success on the track, the metronome is your coach. It even has the capacity to set the intention of the workout, and who wants to disappoint a relatively technological device on their wrist? It sounds rather archaic, especially when we still have heart rate monitors, specific running/training watches, and pedometers. But, the metronome is so much more than that. It is the best way to gauge your performance on the track.

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Using a metronome affects many aspects of running technique because when the cadence of your stride is correct, everything seems to fall in line. It is the sustained rhythm of your cadence that allows you to vary your stride length when running at different speeds. If you think you are going to change your speed based on levels of effort, your body learns to adjust to the tempo and work efficiently, much the same way as a car or bicycle.

There is a sense of stability in your running when using a metronome. When everything else remains constant in running, the ability to shift gears to accommodate the effort is almost like going into a trance on the track. You know the intervals that are determined as the goal workout of the day. Your body learns to adjust to the rhythm of the metronome cadence. It becomes habitual that listening to metric beats surpasses other outside noise influences when running, and being on the track, the soft surface of that track, you have nothing else to be attuned to at that moment.

Pavement running can be more of a distraction, as the sounds of cars whizzing by, your feet pounding the road, and any other encumbrances that may get in the way of your rhythm. But, track training with a metronome gives you a greater ability to focus more on chi running, which is a state of consistent cadence running that your body naturally falls into alignment with during the workout.

First, you must determine your current cadence during a weekly run. Before you even hit the track, allow the body to become comfortable with the rhythm it naturally develops with the metronome beat. Reduce your stride length, which means taking smaller steps but in accordance with the designated cadence of the device.

Once you allow your body to catch up to this type of running, which shouldn’t take too long, then test it on the track using the following measures:

1. Start your metronome with the beat clicking the entire time.
2. Warm up for 5 minutes, or approximately one half mile (2 laps) around the track.
3. Then, without missing a beat, run one-minute intervals changing gears every minute. You can change up or down in only your first three gears.

One thing you can’t change is your cadence.  There are four gears:

1) Warm-up speed-very easy pace
2) Training speed- the length you would train at your longest run
3) Race speed – the speed you would run a race, and
4) Sprint speed-anaerobic (your top speed). Training on the track with all these gearshifts will help improve your technique. The metronome creates effortlessness in the legs, and is without question, the best training tool for runners.

If you run with a metronome, share your experiences with us below.

 
  • Betina DiDomenico

    I started running with a metronome (free app) after a slight hip injury. The metronome paired with proper stretching has eliminated my hip pain. Now, I am having trouble with one of my knees. I’ve recently gone up an entire speed point on the treadmill, and it may have affected my mechanics.
    My PT said that the average rythym is 90 beats per minute – so I am training at that pace. That being said, should I keep that pace even though I am changing speeds?