Using Counterpace outdoors

Using Counterpace outdoors

The treadmill is the easiest place to learn to walk, jog or run in sync with Counterpace guidance - learn more here. Read below to learn how to use Counterpace for outdoor walking and running.

First things first

Familiarize yourself with our getting started procedures here. Once you're wearing your strap your sensor is snapped in and connected to your Counterpace app, continue on.

Make sure you can hear the guidance

Open the app and select “Outdoor.” The primary guidance from Counterpace is audible, so make sure the volume on your phone is turned up so that you can easily hear it during your exercise session. We recommend headphones, or a single earbud, in order to ensure that the timing prompt (beat) is easy to hear over wind, traffic or other environmental noise. To begin, tap “Start” in the Counterpace app.

Allow time to warm up

To step in sync, your step rate will need to match your heart rate. Whether you plan to walk or run, it’s common for step rates to be higher than initial heart rates before warming up during a session. Provide time for your body to warm up and your heart rate to rise towards your natural step rate.  Don’t worry about stepping in sync at the beginning of the session. As you gain more experience you may find ways to get into sync earlier in a session.

Find your desired pace

Once you’ve warmed up and settled into the pace (speed) you’d like to maintain, note where your heart rate is relative to your natural step rate. If you're lucky, your heart rate has risen high enough for prompting to begin. If not, there are several ways to raise your heart rate towards your natural step rate.

Step precisely to the beat 

As soon as your heart rate and step rate are close, the audible beat prompt will begin. Focus on stepping to the beat and you should find yourself stepping in sync! 

Adjusting speed and effort while stepping to the beat

When you step in sync, your step rate is always determined by your heart rate. Therefore, to increase or decrease your speed and effort, you must learn to increase or decrease your stride length while you continue to step at the rate of the audible prompt.

  • To increase speed:  you must increase your stride length – because moving faster requires more effort, your heart rate will rise with the additional effort, which will lead to a faster prompt rate.
  • To slow down: decrease your step length – as your speed decreases, your heart rate will begin to drop, so the prompt rate will also begin to decrease.

Heart rate rises above step rate

If your heart rate rises above your natural step rate, you’ll be prompted to take more and more frequent steps. Any time this occurs, you can immediately decrease your stride length in order to slow down or maintain a constant speed. The more you shorten your steps, the slower you’ll go, and therefore, the less your heart rate will rise. If you shorten your steps enough, your heart rate, and the prompt rate, will begin to slow down.

Heart rate is lower than step rate

You may find, even after warming up, that your heart rate does not rise enough to meet your natural step rate. This is most common at slow to moderate paces, and because natural max heart rates gradually decrease as we grow older. In this case, you may need to increase your stride length in order to accelerate or maintain speed at a given heart rate.  During running, it’s particularly important to maintain proper ergonomics, and NOT heel strike, when increasing stride length. Lengthening strides to maintain intensity or effort level must be accomplished by leaning forward with your hips from your ankles, ensuring that your shoulders remain directly inline with your hips (i.e. don’t bend at the waist).

Strategies to raise your heart rate to your step rate

Walking poles

While taking pressure off your hips and knees, poles increasing upper extremity and core exercise - which raises your heart rate. This can help bring your heart rates and step rates closer together. Walking poles have also been demonstrated to increase calorie burn with a lower perception of effort.

Here are links to three different sets of adjustable walking / hiking / trekking poles we've used and enjoyed:

Ankle weights

Ankle weights help by increasing effort level (higher heart rate) and also decreasing stride rate. Experiment with different weights to find ones that work for you. See below for links to comfortable and cost-effective weights we recommend.

Note: Insertable metal bars can cause soreness due to pressure of end of bar on ankle when running several miles at full weight (5.5lb each ankle). This problem is solved by wearing them inside-out + upside-down, which places the extra padding on pressure points of ankles. 


Short high intensity sprints can raise your heart rate. Don’t try to stay in sync while sprinting, but rather following the sprint you can recover while your heart rate is still elevated and closer to your natural stride rate.


Simply running or walking up a hill is helpful when your heart rate is lower than your natural step rate. The incline helps for two reasons - the increased effort of climbing raises your heart rate, and your natural step rate going uphill are typically lower than walking or running without incline.

When walking or running downhill, your heart rate will drop due to the decreased effort, while your step rate naturally increases. This can make stepping in sync much more difficult and can lead to very long steps which can be hard on the joints going downhill -- Therefore, we recommend you NOT try to step in sync while walking or running downhill. During downhill walking or running, make preservation of your joints with healthy ergonomics, rather than stepping in sync, your first priority, .

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