how to improve running cadence

How to Improve Your Running Cadence

How to Improve Your Running Cadence

Many times you have heard about running cadence, but you may not know very well what it means. This is a basic and very important concept for a broker, so you want to find out.

In this article we will explain what cadence is, how to measure it and some tips to improve it little by little. The benefits of a better cadence are many, so take note.

What is Running Cadence?

Cadence is the number of steps per minute we take while running. And it is an essential factor in defining a runner’s running technique.

Let’s start with the basics, a  stride is the distance from the point of contact of one foot on the ground to the other point of contact of the other foot.

The timing has a lot to do with our stride length, since the length or width is the distance we walk with each stride.

Therefore, the  speed of a runner will be determined by the relationship between the amplitude of the stride and the cadence, because both factors will intervene in the speed.

How Cadence Can Be Measured

You can easily measure your cadence with a pedometer or a heart rate monitor that tracks your steps as you run.

However, if you don’t have these options, there are other alternatives. One of them is to measure the time it takes to take 30 steps on one foot and then divide that number by 3,600.

Let’s see it with an example. If you need about 25 seconds to do 30 steps with one foot, your cadence would be about 144 steps per minute (3,600 / 25 = 144)

According to experts, the ideal cadence for a runner should be 180 bpm (steps per minute). Most likely, the first time you measure your cadence, the result you get is well below this figure.

But do not go down, it is normal, and if you are a beginner it is the most common. You must also bear in mind that the cadence cannot be the same for everyone , because we are not all the same either.

Factors such as height or coordination influence our running technique. The important thing is to try to improve our cadence to get as close as possible to that figure, but without obsessing over it.

Benefits of Improving Runner’s CadenceBenefits of Improving Runner's Cadence

#one. Improve Running Technique

This is the most important advantage that we will receive if we improve our cadence. There are some bad practices that many runners do, but one of the most serious is overstriding , which consists of lengthening the stride as much as possible when running.

However this is not a good technique , and if you think that you will run faster and be more efficient, you are wrong. When you do this you are landing in front of your body with your leg straight and you are entering from the heel (which is known as heel).

When the strides are too long,  there is a strong impact of the foot against the ground and both the knee and the tibia suffer more than they should. Similarly, there is a braking effect that worsens your performance and accelerates the onset of fatigue.

If you increase your cadence, you will take shorter steps and your feet will impact much closer to your center of gravity, that is, under the body. It is also the optimal way to improve your performance because you will use less energy  (running economy) and the force of the impact suffered by the legs against the ground will be reduced.

#two. Reduce the Risk of Injury

As you know, injuries are a runner’s worst enemy and correct running technique is essential to minimize the chances of suffering any of them.

When we run, we receive repetitive impacts on the body generating wear and tear. Our musculoskeletal system has the ability to adapt to this stimulus and this allows our bones, joints, tendons and muscles to be able to withstand this tension.

how to improve running cadence

Nonetheless, when the loads are too high, the impacts are too strong and / or the technique is wrong, the risk of injury is high. Heel and overstriding , for example, are the main cause of injuries such as plantar fasciitis , tibial periostitis, or iliotibial band syndrome .

According to a study published by the NCBI , where the cadence of 45 runners and their variations were evaluated, it was concluded that: ‘ Increasing the cadence can substantially reduce the load on the knee and ankle joints during the race . Therefore, higher cadence can be beneficial in the prevention and treatment of common running-related injuries. ‘

#3. Performance Improvement as a Runner

Finally, we could say that bringing your cadence as close as possible to the optimal figure of 180 ppm is synonymous with better performance. And why is it better to run with shorter strides ? Because…

  • You decrease the contact time with the ground
  • You generate less support force with less stride length
  • You reduce the intensity of vertical loads on the joints
  • You run more efficiently because you lose less energy
  • Delays the onset of muscle fatigue
  • Avoid unnecessary oscillations of the center of gravity
  • You increase your cruising speed and improve your marks
  • Acceleration is constant, without variations
  • Hip adduction is much lower
  • You reduce muscle pain and microtrauma

Progressive Plan to Increase Your CadenceProgressive Plan to Increase Your Cadence

As we have seen, improving cadence consists of decreasing the width of the stride and increasing the frequency of steps per minute . However, we cannot make this change abruptly, it must be a gradual process.

First, we must make sure that our running posture is correct. In this article we give you the guidelines to run with a correct posture and how to correct it if it is not.

The best way to increase cadence is to improve muscle strength in your legs. Therefore, first combine your running outings with strength training and strengthen your lower body to the maximum.

Next, start increasing your cadence by doing sets in your workouts. Don’t even think about increasing your cadence all at once. You can’t have a cadence of 155 and suddenly try to run at 180 bpm. You will have to perform a progressive increase .

Therefore, we propose the series, although you can follow other procedures. Our proposal is that you do your normal training (eg: 30 minutes) and that you start introducing short series (5 minutes) where you increase your cadence.

Try this way for one or several weeks and gradually increase the duration of the series and the cadence, but always slowly (from 155 bpm to 160, from 160 bpm to 165 bpm, etc …)

Don’t stop continuing to strengthen your lower body with strength training . By combining both techniques, you will be able to increase your cadence and improve your technique as a runner.

Tips to Change Your Cadence and Improve Your Performance

cooper test

#one. Patience and Safety

It is essential that you be patient with the issue of cadence. When you start training it, you will feel very strange and even clumsy, because you will have been running for so long with the same technique that it will be difficult to move in another way. With time and effort you will achieve it.

Another important aspect is security. You should not be ashamed when running with shorter steps, nor think that other runners will look at you strangely. If they really are runners, they will know that you are training your cadence.

#two. Higher Cadence Doesn’t Mean Higher Speed

We have discussed it before, but we repeat it. Increasing your cadence improves your performance, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to run faster. At least that shouldn’t be your main goal.

Increasing your cadence consists of focusing on two essential aspects: a shorter contact time of the foot on the ground and a shorter stride width. Strive to stomp and get out fast for the next stride, as if the ground were lava.

#3. Look for Alternatives to Help You

When you start running increasing the cadence you will realize that it will not be an easy task, not only because of the physical effort but also because of the mental exhaustion.

Being aware of the number of steps you take all the time can be a bit tedious. Luckily, there are some tricks to keep the cadence more unconscious , like music or the metronome.running cadence

Music to Increase Cadence

There are some runners who choose to use music as an unconscious method to improve cadence.

How? Well, if, for example, you have a cadence of 150 bpm and you want to raise it to 160, you can search for songs or playlists that have a rhythm with the equivalent tempo.

According to a study published in the NCBI , “the tempo of the music could serve as a means to modify the cadence in the race.” To do this, they conducted a test with 20 runners, who were asked to run without music, with music and with different tempos.

The result the researchers obtained is that running to fast tempo music increased the runners’ cadence , while running to slow music decreased their cadence.

Mobile Apps with Metronome to Increase Cadence

Increasing the tempo with music is a good option, but may not be entirely accurate. If you have very specific musical tastes, you may not be convinced by what you find within the tempo you are looking for.

To run with a really precise cadence it is best to choose to run with the metronome . Running with a constant rhythmic chain playing will be very helpful in getting your body used to training with a specific cadence.

You will only have to combine each step you take with the sound of the metronome, synchronizing the movement of your legs.

near at hand there are very useful mobile applications that will help you keep the rhythm that you want at all times and with which it will be easier for you to maintain the cadence you want.

  • AudioStep : allows you to select the cadence from 120 to 200 bpm and also recommends music with that rhythm.
  • Musicmotion Running – Also syncs music to cadence and tracks distance, time, and pace.
  • Cadence Trainer : This is suitable for both runners and cyclists, so it will be useful if you practice cross training.
  • Metronome Beats : you will have a metronome of a lifetime sounding to the rhythm of cadence you are looking for.

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