Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Music to Pace Your Walk

I know what you’re thinking. Because I use to think the same thing. Walking? For an athlete like myself? I’m too good for just walking. It’s not enough. That’s for people who can’t do what I did in high school. And that’s where I usually catch myself. I was an athlete in high school. Not now, five years later. High school. The truth of the matter is, walking is for everyone, athlete or not.
Since I’ve finally admitted to myself that I’m in a time in my life where walking is for me, I’ve tried a lot of things. Some may have the discipline to walk and keep a great pace and have an awesome, low-impact workout. I am not that disciplined person. I need help and lots of it.
Music is a great help in any workout, especially if you need help pacing yourself. Runners often use music to pace themselves and walkers can do the same. Depending on how fast you want to walk a mile, you’ll need music of varying BPM or beats per minute. Here’s a simple chart for helping you decide your pace:

150 BPM
16 minute mile
10 minute kilometer
153 BPM
14 minute mile
9 minute km
156 BPM
12 minute mile
8 minute km
160 BPM
10 minute mile
7 minute km
163 BPM
9 minute mile
6 minute km
166 BPM
8 minute mile
5 minute km
171 BPM
6 minute mile
4 minute km

Using this chart you can determine the speed of every mile you walk. This can even be a training tool in helping you work up from walking to running and even prepare you for a 5K, 10K, or something more. As you can see, going from a 16 minute mile to a 14 minute mile is an increase of only 3 BPM. That’s not much. You can easily gradually increase your pace to get in better shape.
When you use music to keep your pace you need to remember that each beat of the music equals a step when walking or running. In other words, following music at 160 BPM means taking 160 steps per minute. Another great thing about using music with a steady pace is that you know how far you went based on the length of time you were walking without having to walk on a track or retrace your route in your car.
By using music to help pace your walk, you end up walking faster, farther, and longer to get a better workout.  It’s all about intensity and increasing your pace means increasing the intensity of the workout. A 12 minute mile pace while walking will definitely get you to break a sweat if you hold the pace, especially if you’re planning on going several miles.
A lot of people who start out walking, or even running, quickly get overwhelmed when they think about how many miles or how fast or whatever blah, blah, blah. Sometimes walking 3 miles sounds too daunting or that you simply don’t have time to walk that far. If we use our music to pace us, things get easier. If I decide to walk for 30 minutes (because we all know that’s the recommended daily amount of exercise…) and I choose to walk with music at 153 BPM I know I can get in almost 3 miles in my 3o minutes. Knowing that you can walk that far in only 30 minutes seems much more doable doesn’t it?
When choosing your music it’s important to choose something that has an obvious, steady beat otherwise you’re not going to heat it and if you can’t hear it, you can’t follow it. There are a lot of websites that allow you to download music of various BPM. A general search can lead you to a lot of music. One website I’ve got a lot of music from is www.powermusic.com and one of the things I love about it is that there are a lot of popular songs on there and the music has been edited so that it’s more appropriate for everyone to listen to. Find some good websites and pick motivating music that will help you focus and want to do your workout. Happy walking!

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