180 bpm

Ken’s first test subject was Alan Melvin, a world-class Masters thriathlete in his sixties. First, Ken set a baseline by having Melvin run four hundred meters full out. The he clipped a small electric metronome to his T-shirt.

    “What’s this for?”

    “Set it for one hundred eighty beads a minute, then run to the beat.”

    “Why?”

    “Kenyans have superquick foot turnover,” Ken said. “Quick, light leg contractions are more economical than big, forceful ones.”

    “I don’t get it,” Alan said. “Don’t I want a longer stride, not a shorter one?”

    “Let me ask you this,” Ken replied. “You ever see one of those barefoot guys in a 10K race?”

    “Yeah. It’s like they’re running on hot coals.”

    “You ever beat one of those barefoot guys?”

    Alan reflected. “Good point.”

Christopher McDougall. 2009. “Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen”.

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