Running cadence is the number of steps per minute. Our running speed is connected to our cadence and stride length. Technically, it is the amount of times our foot hits the ground. In the past, the running cadence trend and recommendation was 180 steps/minute, but it is not as simple as it seems. Our running cadence is affected by our stride length, and running form. By the time we start running, our running form and cadence become engrained in our neuromuscular system overtime, that is our signature stride. That is why recommending every runner to reach a minimum cadence of 180 is not a great recommendation. Our running cadence and stride length play a big role in our speed and the reduction of injuries. The more steps we take during a run, the faster the rate. For most runners, fixing our running form and stride length, will help increase our cadence according to our personal running speed. A shorter stride will lead to higher turnover rate, less ground impact than long strides and more time moving forward.
Is Higher Running Cadence Better?
The average running cadence is 150-170. A cadence lower than 160 strides/minute is usually due to overstride. Runners who overstride, land with a heel strike that blocks the forward motion required for running, that means the hips and knee joints get a lot of impact on every step. Everyone runs differently, but a slightly faster cadence can help improve our running form, running pace and prevent injuries. Now we know that the average recommended cadence is 160-180 for normal runs and 180-190 for fast runs, or up to 200 for super-fast marathon runners. We should focus on our personal running speed, everyone runs differently.
Benefits of Higher Running Cadence
- More efficient running form
- Increase in running speed with form efficiency
- Less impact on the hips and knee joints
- Fixing overstriding
- Less injuries caused by heel striking
- Softer landings with each step
- Less breaking force with ground contact
How to Measure our Running Cadence
Most runners use a GPS watch with a built in sensor that tracks our cadence, but to calculate our own cadence might be more accurate.
- Count every foot step on one side for 10 seconds
- Multiply it by 2 (to account for both feet)
- Multiply that result by 6 (to account for 1 minute)
14 Foot Steps/ 10 secs X 2= 28
28 X 6= 168 cadence/ minute
How to Increase Running Cadence
- Strides– One of the most easiest and efficient training is doing Strides training, to perform this training 2/week for 6 weeks will help increase the cadence:
Strides are 100m or 200m accelerations where you accelerate gradually over 25m, you start at a jog then increase to about 95% of your max speed and then gradually slow to a stop. One 100m stride should take about 20-30 secs, take a 45-60 secs recovery between each stride, by jogging slowly. Perform strides on a flat terrain, and to avoid injuries make sure you increase your speed gradually. Start by adding 4 strides to a shorter run. As you progress add 6 strides, up to 8 strides on a longer run. Perform Strides towards the end of the run and finishing with 1km slower to recover.
- 100m Stride– Run 4-8 Strides at 95%of your max speed for 20-30secs with 45-60 secs recovery jog.
- 200m Stride– Run 4-8 Strides at 95% your max speed for 30-45 secs, with 45-60 secs recovery jog.
- 100m/200m Stride Combo– Run 4-8 Strides at 95% of your max speed, alternating between 100m and 200m Strides with 45-60 secs recovery jog.
- Metronome Beats App- Using this App during a run, set to a specific beat is a great way to increase our cadence more easily by following the beats. Once we know our cadence, we can set up the Metronome App to increase our cadence gradually with our customized goals.
- Start by matching the beat to your current running pace and do short bursts at that speed to get accustomed to running with the beat.
- Next increase it by 5-10 beats and run 400-800m using the cadence.
- Next increase it by another 5-10 beats and repeat
- Do this until you run with 190 beats.
- Jump Rope to Increase Ground Force– To perform jump rope training has many benefits for runners, it strengthens our calves, ankles, feet, and improves our speed and cardio.
- Start with 30 secs reps, increasing to 1 minute reps
- Keep the legs straight
- Focus on the power in the feet and ankles to push away on the jump
- Between each rep take a 30 seconds break or add jump rope training to your strength workouts
- Start with a shorter time and increase the amount of reps gradually to allow the calves and knees to adapt.
Increasing our running cadence by just a few steps and according to our personal running speed, will have many benefits without too much intensity. It will improve our running speed, running form and prevent injuries.
Good Cadence, Good Running Form, Great Run!