It has been clear to me from years of Tai Chi practice that finding the right rhythm in a movement “unlocks” the body. When I stumbled on to this video though, I was fascinated to see a similar theory being discussed in running.
In the clip, he says that this particular rhythm, 180 beats per minute, helps you “tap into the body’s elastic mechanism.” After I watched the clip (the other ones in the series are great, by the way), I turned my metronome up to 180 bpm and hit the road. Here’s what happened:
Just like other metronome work (which I’ll discuss later in this series), having an external rhythmÂ helps you feel the places you’re stuck. When you’re trying to hit the same rhythm again and again, you’ll miss the beat or fatigue sooner in the places you’re stuck than in other places. For example, if one hip is tighter than the other, you’ll start to notice a lag on that side, while the other side doesn’t feel like anything at all. Running to an external rhythm clarifies where you need to do additional isolation mobility work.
Later in the run, returning to the rhythm actually rejuvenated me. As I got tired, my stride got longer andÂ slower, but the short, quick steps this rhythm demands made it easier to contain my center of gravity, and so instead of feeling like I had to reach and strain to keep going, it was more like re-establishing a “bounce”. Once I let the bounce go through my body, it got easier again. I think this is the beginning of “tapping in to the body’s elastic mechanism.”
What continues to impress me about rhythm training is that adhering to a particular rhythm really can alter your form.