Right before I started running in Vibram Five Fingers last year I also read up on the Chi Running method developed by Danny Dreyer so I could adjust my running style. I quickly realized that one more piece of gear, a metronome, would be helpful, but I didn't want to buy a specialized item when I already had my MP3 player for audio. Thus, I decided to make my own MP3s. Here's how to do it.
Note: This uses a Mac. If you're a PC person, try and find someone who has a Mac to do this. It really doesn't take too long. Failing that, there's probably some good PC alternative or you could just use the included MP3s.
Step 1: Starting Up
One of the key ideas of Chi Running is that your tempo for each foot is 85 - 90 strides per minute. My running tempo at the time was around 65 strides per minute. To help keep the pace (it's easy to slow down) it helps to have something to remind you to go faster.
The solution for me is to use my MP3 player I already had and just make MP3s that are at 85 - 90 bpm so that there's a beat for each footstep for one foot. After running with that for a bit I switched to 170 - 180 bpm so that there's a beat for each foot.
If you're just starting out, you'll want to work up to 85 bpm gradually.
I'm using Garageband on my Mac to make this. It's included in the iLife suite.
So, let's get started! Fire up Garageband and make a new loop track.
Step 2: Find a Drum Loop You Like
On the right side of the window you'll see options for lots and lots and lots of loops. You can get lost in here if you want, but here's the quick method.
- Select All Drums
- Select Motown Drummer 03 and drag it into the main space. It will create an audio bubble in the timeline.
Yes, of course you can use other loops if you want.
Step 3: Changing the Tempo
We'll want to be able to change the tempo to what we want so go into "Control" and choose "Show tempo in LCD." You will now see the tempo on the bottom of the window.
By clicking on the tempo you can change it. Do that and set it to 85.
Step 4: Stretch It Out
Now that you have the drum loop at the right speed, we'll need a longer track.
So go back to "Control" and choose "Show time in LCD"
This will change the LCD display, but more importantly the top of the window shows the track in terms of time.
Hover over the top-right corner of the blue bubble in the timeline and you'll see a curved arrow. This means you can keep looping the audio track. Drag it out to 10 minutes.
And that's it! You've made a 10 minute track to run with. The track is 10 minutes long because even if you set the track on repeat on your MP3 player there will still be a gap between plays and it can be disconcerting. Every 10 minutes isn't so bad.
Go to share and you can either send your song to iTunes or Export it to Disk if you want to place the file somewhere else.
Finally, I prefer to double the tempo so that I have one footfall on every beat. For this simply change the tempo to 170 and drag out the music to the 10 minute mark again.
Step 5: Dropping Out
OK, one loop over and over again can get pretty tiresome. You can change the volume on your MP3 player if you want to make it quiet or focus on it, but I found that making audio dropouts in the file itself was more helpful. The audio gets quieter and then comes back at full volume so I can check to see if I'm running at the right pace on my own.
So go to "Track" and choose "Show Master Track." You'll now see a purple section at the bottom. Click the square between the icon and the text to activate it.
You can now change the volume of the track by adding points to the line. To add a point, simply click on the purple line. Dragging that point up or down will make that part of the song louder or softer.
What we want are slow dropouts which quickly come back. So make two points along the line. These are the beginning and end points for the dropout. See picture 3.
Make one more point just to the left of the right point and drag it all the way down. Finally, make a fourth point in the middle and drag that one down a little as well. See picture 4.
Repeat this process across the rest of the track. Try varying the effect so that you won't know what to expect when you're running.
Export and enjoy!
Step 6: More Drums, Please
So the dropouts are keeping you on your toes, but you're tired of the same sample. OK, let's add more drums. Open up the Loop Browser again and pull in another drum loop.
Drag in the drum loop into the timeline and it will make a new track. Line it up with the other loop right before the audio levels right before the audio coms back up.
Go back to the original drum loop track and scrub it back to the point where the new loop is.
Extend the new loop to cover one more section and add another drum loop. I stuck with the same group of drum loops, but you can do whatever you want. You can switch to something more processed or even add some sound effects on top. Go nuts.
When you're done, export and run! You've been spending too much time on front of a computer anyway. :)