The Metronome: Best Training Tool Ever - Chi Running

The Metronome: Best Training Tool Ever

Posted by Danny Dreyer on Mon Mar 16th, 2009, 7 comments

I was out running with my dog this morning. And, as I ran along with my trusty metronome beeping away I was inspired to pass on my enthusiasm for this little instrument. I’ve been running with a metronome for about eleven years now and I can’t think of a better tool for practicing and learning the cadence ideas of ChiRunning.

If you’re not familiar with what I’m talking about, here it is in a nutshell. The most economical way to run is to vary your stride length relative to the speed you’re running. One exception to this would be for sprinters, who need to have very quick acceleration and therefore need to have an exceptionally high cadence relative to distance runners.

Slow running = Short strides
As a rule of thumb, your stride should be the shortest when you’re running at slow speeds. We recommend this because running at slow speeds with a long stride creates too much contact time with the ground, overworking your leg muscles.

Fast running = Long strides
As you increase your speed, your stride length should get longer. Watch the Kenyans (or any other highly efficient runners) when they’re racing and you’ll see what I mean by how long their stride is.

One of the revolutionary aspects of the ChiRunning technique is that your stride length changes with your speed while your cadence, with only a few exceptions, remains constant.

Running with a metronome beeping away keeps me honest (not to mention consistent) with my cadence…no matter what I’m doing. Having my cadence always remain steady, prompts me to lengthen and shorten my stride depending on what my body needs, or the terrain dictates. When I’m running uphill it shortens…heading downhill, it lengthens…when I slow down, it shortens…going faster, it lengthens again.

I’ve learned more about how to work with my stride length from this device than from all the running coaches I’ve ever met, and I’ll probably never stop touting its praises. Running to a rhythmical beat adds a wonderful ease to your stride, and the depth of understanding of how your stride works best, will never be the same.

I don’t run with my metronome beeping all the time. That would drive me a little crazy. I use it for the first few minutes at the beginning of each run and then check in with it periodically to see how I’m doing.

Click here for a very thorough article on specifically how to use the metronome. If you’d like to see what it looks like, the ChiRunning DVD shows a great split-frame video of a person running at four different speeds with the constant beep of a metronome in the background.

Try it yourself and you’ll see what I mean.




  • chirunning,
  • running downhill,
  • chi running,
  • fast running,
  • metronomes,
  • running cadence,
  • running efficiency,
  • running uphill,
  • slow running,
  • stride length

7 CommentsLeave a comment below

I am a beginner and I just took out my brand new metronome for my 3 mile “long” run.  I was loathe to give up my ipod, but I think I just had my best run ever - despite it being 40 degrees and raining!  I had fun, no IT band pain, and it was the fastest I’ve gone.  Thanks Danny!

I have been enjoying your blog and especially your video series.  In this post you mentioned running with your dog.  Could you write a post on how best to keep your Chi Running techniques while you have a dog on a leash?  My dog is my daily running partner, but I don’t think it always fits in with Chi Running (especially when we cross a squirrel or I am trying to hold a dog bag in the process!)

There are two options you have if you run with a dog. The first one is more difficult. Train your dog to always stay at your side and maintain a slack leash (yes, even when there’s a squirrel). Dog training is not that difficult, but you have to be committed to doing it consistently or it doesn’t work. There are lots of great dog training books out there. I used the book, The Monks of New Skete, which is a wonderful beginners manual. They also have a great DVD. If you really love to run with your dog, this is your best option.

Your second option is to pick the days you run with your dog and pick different days you’re going to practice your ChiRunning technique, and be cognizant of the fact that it is virtually impossible to do both at the same time. The same rule applies to listening to music on an MP3.

ann Phillipss May 25th, 2009 12:48pm

Danny, an acquaintance of mine is looking for a metronome cadence-  i volunteered to look for same on the internet for her.  However, im not having much luck.  There are loads of musical metronome, but very few listed for sport!  I cant believe that I stumbled upon your article, as I myself do quite a bit of running and I have never heard of this device or the purpose/function/benefit of same to runners.  In fact, I ran a marathon last October and I definately think I need to be trained properly in the way I run.  I can identify with what you say with regard to stride -v- speed!!
Can you help me source one of these devices please!  I live in the West of Ireland. 
Thank you.


Here’s the URL where you can order one.

Cadence and metronomes |Monkeys and Tea Jul 11th, 2010 03:36am

[...] with a metronome. A metronome is a device to help musicians keeping time. You can read more at Danny’s blog post about how to go about doing [...]

Louis Hamerman Oct 12th, 2011 09:03pm

I tried a whole bunch of different things. I tried a metronome app on my ipod touch. The Metronome from Marketwall was the only one I found that was both free and still worked while the ipod screen was off. But it got on my nerves. Then I found a metronome mp3 site that had all the BPMs I needed. You can loop them but again I found them to be annoying. Then i found some programs that analyze your Itunes library. BPMer is pretty good and I liked MixMeister even better. After the program ran thru my library I sorted my tunes by BPM and copy the ones with the right BPM into my playlist. I have been slowly increasing my cadence and I found that about the same time I run out of songs at the right BPM its about time to increase my cadence by one. I like to mix up my songs with short podcasts and I also got the great idea to use the appropriate metronome MP3 file as my powersong.

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