Just a little update on my recovery from the accident in December, I’m continuing to make progress with my therapy and have slowly started getting back into things. I’m super determined to make it to the Race for a Soldier in September and hope to see you guys there! Such a great cause and always fun to meet other ExoSym buddies in person. While the last six months have been some of the most challenging months of my life, I grow stronger in spirit and faith every day. I want to thank everyone so much for all your love and support. I am determined to find a way to keep moving forward from this accident and I’m not giving up. It’s been said it’s always darkest before the light and I think that’s something important for us all to remember. It may be dark for a time (and sometimes longer than we’d want), but the sun always rises again. Never forget that. Challenges in life are not meant to destroy us. They are the means by which we rebuild ourselves – and rise like the sun again.
So in the spirit of the sun, I want to share a bit of ExoSym wisdom for those looking to rise and run with the ExoSym. Namely, focusing on the importance of dialing in your cadence when running in your device. Keep in mind, this is just my opinion on what’s worked for me. If you are new to running in the device, make sure to check with the Hanger team before getting started.
Simply put, cadence is the number of steps you take per minute. When you first get the device, the Hanger team will likely train you with a metronome on the treadmill to get you used to the quicker steps. I used to think “Okay, I got this. I need to take quick steps. I can remember that.” But, what I found over time is that I fell back into old habits of longer strides and in peak training periods with longer runs would end up sometimes with tightness on my non-device side of the body (i.e. my ITB and hip flexor would get super tight). Thinking back about the first several years in the device, I recognize that I ran with pure joy just so happy to be able to run… and what I want to pass on is how important it is as times goes on, to be diligent about your form = #runhappy AND #runsmart ☺. If you think about it, the device pushes off the ground so quickly with the energy return of the struts — you’ll want to mirror that return on both sides of the body. At first, it may not feel entirely natural for you to take quicker steps for an entire run, but if you truly commit to it, it will become natural and can make a huge difference in how your body adapts to running in the device. I can speak from personal experience that my Exobody favors this approach. Quick steps over the entire run – not just while sprinting. To keep you honest with your cadence, I’ve found it’s best to download a metronome app that you can use while running (aka Jared in your ear). Essentially taking what you learned at the clinic and applying it every time you run. There are a lot of apps out there, but my personal favorite is RunTempo. I set it to 180 (90 steps per foot), click play, and then it beeps on a high/low beat as my music plays in the background. You can have it set to play for a certain amount of time (like let’s say the first 5 min of your run, etc) and then automatically turn off or you can do what I do… which is play it the entire length of my run. You can also adjust it. So let’s say 180 feels too quick, you can dial it back. I also use my POLAR M400 watch which records my cadence and helps me see how well I did over the course of the run. Like anything, cadence is not a one size fits all (180 is right for me, but you’ll have to determine what’s best for you) and you certainly want to give yourself time to adjust (you wouldn’t want to overnight make your entire run at 180), but with practice you can increase it to where it feels right for you. Improving cadence is not difficult, but it takes time.
There are some great articles out there that go over why cadence is important, how to determine your optimal cadence and also how to increase it over time. I’d definitely recommend reading up on cadence before getting started. Just google “running cadence” and you’ll find a lot of helpful information to get you going.
Here are three good articles to get you started:
- Running Cadence: Why it Matters & How to Improve Yours
- Three Ways to Increase Running Cadence
- What is my Running Cadence and Should I Care?
Even if you don’t download a metronome, just try to be conscious of how your body moves when you’re running. Think symmetry and while it’s tempting to just “run” because you’re so happy to be running again, remember to keep in mind everything you learned at the Hanger Clinic. I’ve found this to be key to success in the device over the long haul. Keep your core strong and apply what you learned at the clinic in everything you do.
As you face challenges in your life, never forget that every dark night gives us an opportunity to rise and shine again. I may not be back to where I was before the accident, but I’m not giving up. We must always keep the faith and find a way to keep going. Find the courage within to press on. And when you feel like it’s too much to bear, let the strength of the Lord be the light that carries you.
Here’s to re-learning to run again for the… 3rd time in my life! #teamexosym #nevergiveup
#beYOU #beAMAZING #ExoSymplyAmazing