What is cadence?
Believe it or not, one of the best ways to improve your overall running technique is to focus on your running cadence. Running cadence refers to the number of times your feet hit the ground during one minute of running. This can be anywhere from 150 to upwards of 200 steps per minute, depending on level of expertise, overall fitness, and run type. Sprinting, for example, usually involves a faster cadence than long distance running.
What is your comfortable running cadence?
Most researchers agree that if you’re serious about running and your average cadence is below 180 steps per minute, working to increase it will help you improve your overall performance AND prevent injuries. This is music to my ears!
Should I work on increasing my cadence?
If you’re skeptical about how paying attention to your running cadence can help you in the long run (no pun intended), consider this information published by Mackenzie Havey, certified running coach and author of the brand new book Mindful Running:
On preventing injuries, Havey says:
A number of studies have suggested that a faster running cadence helps to adjust a runner’s form, and in turn, may lead to fewer injuries.
In a recent study, published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, the biomechanics of step rate were analyzed. Researchers monitored three-dimensional kinematics and kinetics in 45 healthy, recreational runners and paid special attention to the hip, knee and ankle joints. They found that slight increases in stride cadence led to significant reductions in loading on the knee and hip joints, which, they hypothesize, might help prevent some of the most prevalent running injuries.
A quicker cadence generally leads a runner to hit midfoot compared to runners with longer strides. This longer striding causes runners to extend their legs out in front of their body, creating a braking effect. This can slow you down and lead to injuries.
On improving performance, Havey goes on to say:
The majority of elite runners strike the ground around 180 to 184 times each minute. Running economy is all about how efficiently you use oxygen at a certain pace. The more efficient you are in using it, the better your running economy. Running cadence is inextricably linked to economy because it affects the way you strike the ground. Better form and optimal cadence translates into improved running economy and faster times.
Hopefully, that evidence will convince you that working on your running cadence is a good thing!
How can I improve my cadence?
“Upping” your cadence can be tough to do, especially if you don’t use some sort of audio feedback system, and there aren’t a lot of them out there right now. You can use a metronome app or find songs with the right BPM (beats-per-minute) but the metronome can be boring and finding the right music can be time-consuming and pricey.
In my future posts, we’ll explore another option that I think you might like!
Until then, start running to the beat!