The Universal Running Cadence
When Tamsen first started training for the Boston Marathon, she ended up injuring herself because she was new to running. In figuring out how to start again in a way that wouldn’t cause reinjury, she discovered the Universal Running Cadence of 180 steps per minute, which is the speed the body needs to move to move in its most efficient manner. To keep time, Tamsen created a playlist of tracks that all were at 180 beats per minute: everything from David Bowie to Beyonce to the Beastie Boys.
Putting messages together can often feel like a highly inefficient process, and the worry creeps in that your message isn’t that different from what’s already out there. The lesson Tamsen learned from making her playlist, however, is that the individual is universal and the universal is individual. Tamsen’s best individual way to run was to follow a universal cadence, but that universal cadence showed up in wildly different artists and songs.
When you think about the universally true things about how your audience decides to act, lean on the Red Thread to appeal to those universal needs of Goal, Problem, Idea, Change, and Actions. At the same time, keep in mind that, just like all the artists on that playlist, your unique perspective is going to make the universal individual.
- How to Improve Your Running Cadence
- Tamsen’s Crazy Eclectic 180 BPM Running Playlist
- Katy Perry – “Roar”
– What do the Beastie Boys, Bowie and Beyonce have to do with running the Boston Marathon? And what does that answer have to do with making it easier to make the universal individual an individual universal? Well, that’s what I’m going to talk about this week on Find the Red Thread. I’m Tamsen Webster of tamsenwebster.com.
When I trained for the Boston Marathon, low these many years ago, I was not a runner. And because I was not a runner, I didn’t know how to run. And because I didn’t know how to run, I hurt myself. And because of that, I had to stop running. And because I had to stop running, I needed to figure out how to start running again in a way that wouldn’t hurt me. And this is when I found a very fascinating piece of information.
I discovered the Universal Running Cadence. Well, what is that? A cadence is how many times your feet hit the pavement in a minute. And what I found was that humans have an ideal running cadence. The human body, any body, every body, has this universal cadence that your body wants to move. I mean, you may not actually want to move that way, but if your body moves that fast, it’s moving at its most efficient manner. And, which was useful for me, it was nearly impossible for me to run in such a way that hurt me. And so, aha, I had a solution.
But how could I make sure that I stayed with that cadence without boring myself to death with some kind of metronome that just went beep, beep, beep, beep in my ear, ’cause that’d be pretty annoying. So, I discovered that, you know what, who else pays attention to something per minute? And I thought, musicians do. And that meant I was on a quest. A quest to find as many songs as I could stand to listen to that were at that same cadence. That same 180 steps, or in this case, beats per minute.
And you might think that, my goodness, all of that stuff would start to sound the same after a while. But it doesn’t. That’s where Beastie Boys, Bowie and Beyonce come in. But it’s also where Coldplay, CCR, Joe Cocker come in— all of them. And in fact a huge number of artists have recorded songs at 180 beats per minute. So, it was easy for me, I could just put on that music and I just ran to the beat. And if I ran to the beat, then I was running at that efficient cadence and that way that would make it hard for me to injure myself and I was able to run the marathon. I wasn’t able to finish, but that’s a whole different story.
Now, why do I tell this to you? Well, because when we’re putting messages together for ourselves or for other people, it can often feel like a highly inefficient process. And at the same time, there’s this worry that I hear over and over again from clients that maybe it isn’t that different, this message, from what everybody else has to say. And this is where I bring in the lesson I learned from 180 beats per minute: that in many, many cases, the individual is universal and the universal is individual.
My individual best way to run, was to follow a universal cadence. And what’s universal, that cadence, is in turn best for every individual. And I could see that play out in a different way by looking at that universal cadence in music because that same beats per minute could show up in styles as wildly different as those artists I already talked about.
So, here’s what this means for you, that when you think about the universally true things about how people decide to act, how they hear and process information, that sounds an awful lot like the Red Thread. Because we all are looking for things to achieve, problems to solve, our Goals. We all are trying to figure out how to shift our perspectives, the Problems. And all of us are driven and guided by fundamental truths, values, beliefs, the Ideas, which lead us to change our thinking or behavior, the Change. And to act in different ways— the Actions.
And so as you’re thinking through, how do I find the most efficient way to put a message together that will be universally appealing and yet, individual to me, and individually meaningful to the people that I’m talking about? Well, use the Red Thread like that Universal Running Cadence. Use it to decide what are those universal kinds of concepts and how does my message fit into that? And you’ll find that in that case, too, the individual is universal and the universal is individual.
And by the way, back to the Boston Marathon, when I was finally able to finish it the second year that I trained, the song that took me down that last stretch across the finish line was a perfect 180 beats per minute, Katy Perry’s, “Roar.” I’m Tamsen Webster of tamsenwebster.com. I hope you enjoyed this week’s episode of Find the Red Thread. In the show notes I will put my crazy, eclectic 180 beat per minute running list for you in case you just want to listen to it. It’s great for working by the way, but if you’re also interested in working together to figure out how to find your Red Thread, then contact me at tamsenwebster.com/contact.