This piece first appeared on Triathlete.com.
Want to work on quickening your stride? All you need is a new playlist … and a little rhythm.
To increase your running efficiency and speed, you should develop a consistent metronomic cadence. The higher your turnover rate (steps taken per minute), the less time you spend in the air—which in turn reduces impact and lowers your risk of injury.
Test your current cadence by counting your right foot strikes for 60 seconds during an easy run. Multiply that by two. If you’re right around 180, you’re at an optimal stride rate. If you fall below that average—like most of us—you can work on your cadence using music as a tool.
Former marathon world-record holder Haile Gebrselassie has famously used music (specifically the song “Scatman” by Scatman John) to lock in his optimal stride rate, and research has shown that carefully selected music can actually enhance endurance by 15 percent.
These songs are all close to that sweet spot of 180 beats per minute. Simply match your feet to the beat to teach your body what an optimal cadence feels like. If you’re just starting out it may feel pretty fast, so aim to focus on your stride only during the chorus and then work you way up to full songs.
1. “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go,” Wham!
2. “The Distance” Cake
3. “Love is a Battlefield,” Pat Benetar
4. “I’m Still Standing,” Elton John
5. “Umbrella,” Rihanna
6. “Dancing with Myself,” Billy Idol
7. “Free Fallin’,” Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
8. “Give it Away,” Red Hot Chili Peppers
9. “Such Great Heights,” The Postal Service
10. “Footloose,” Kenny Loggins
11. “Son of A Preacher Man,” Dusty Springfield
12. “Everlong,” Foo Fighters
13. “Lose Yourself,” Eminem
14. “Wonderwall,” Oasis
15. “Longest Time,” Billy Joel