Are your feet stuck in slow motion? Are you struggling to find the right rhythm when running? If so, it may be time to take a closer look at your running cadence. Optimizing your running cadence can result in greater efficiency and smoother strides.
In this post, we’ll discuss different factors that influence running rhythm, as well as tips on how to increase slower cadence for better performance. So break out of those sluggish steps and get ready to go the distance — sound good? Let’s get started!
What Is Running Cadence and Why Is It Important for Runners of All Levels
Running cadence, also known as stride rate, is the number of steps taken per minute while running. Having an understanding of your running cadence is important for runners of all levels to help improve efficiency and performance, and reduce injury risk.
Having a consistent running cadence is beneficial for both your speed and endurance capabilities as it is easier to increase the intensity while running if you have a consistent cadence.
This is because your legs will be able to move faster, and with more power and balance if they are used to hitting the ground in a certain rhythm. It also helps maintain an even distribution of force which prevents overstriding or excessive foot slapping that can lead to bone stress injuries.
Overall, having an optimal running cadence is important for all runners no matter what level you’re at. Good running mechanics help to improve performance and efficiency while reducing injury risk by maintaining an even force distribution across your body.
The pace of your progress while running is not just measured in mileage – taking the time to adjust your cadence might make all the difference!
How Stride Length Affects Your Run Cadence and Form
Have you ever found yourself longing for long strides like those of an elite runner? It’s a common human desire to feel and look powerful when running, but long strides are not always the answer.
When it comes to stride length and your run cadence and form, more isn’t necessarily better! A long stride may increase your current cadence, but that’s not the same as having an optimal tempo; although long strides certainly have their merits. Elite runners have mastered finding the right balance between long and short strides as this helps develop their run cadence even more.
So if you want to make sure you’re running with perfect form and at the optimum pace, take a leaf out of the book of elite runners and focus on finding (and maintaining) a comfortable stride length that works best for your individual needs.
How to Measure Running Cadence
Your running cadence is affected by a wide variety of factors. It is a complicated formula that involves many factors that can change over time as you become a better (and more efficient) runner.
Factors that affect running cadence
Age is an important factor that can affect running cadence, especially as we get older. The length of the long strides and our ability to maintain a consistent cadence tends to decrease as we get older.
Your fitness level is another important factor when it comes to running cadence. As you become more fit and efficient, your long strides will be easier to maintain for longer periods allowing for a higher running tempo.
The terrain you’re running on can also affect your long stride and cadence. Hills, gravel, sand, trail running and other terrain changes can make long strides more difficult to maintain and increase the difficulty of your pace.
Taller runners tend to have longer strides with fewer foot hits and a slower cadence. This is due to the longer leg length which usually implies a lower cadence with greater running economy due to the greater distance per stride.
A runner’s cadence will typically decrease when transitioning from a slower pace to a faster one. This is because running at a faster pace requires a shorter and quicker long stride.
A change in body weight results in predictable changes in running mechanics. When you lose weight (or take off body weights) you will get the same force as with the heavier weight, so decreasing your stride rate will increase stride distance.
According to Kinetic Revolution a 10% decrease in body weight equals a 1.5% – 3.5% decrease in cadence.
Running experience level
More experienced runners tend to have better running technique and running form which often means they have good running tempo even before they measure cadence.
Shoes and shoe cushioning
Different running shoes and shoe cushioning are not going to make much of an impact. but with great bounce and perhaps slightly lighter shoes you may slow cadence slightly by having longer strides.
Many runners (56%) report running-related injuries related to heel striking forces in running. Increasing step frequency with the same speed is a simple method of injury prevention.
Steps to figure out your exact running cadence
While many factors will affect your running cadence, figuring out what YOUR cadence is is fairly simple.
Simply count how many times you smack the ground with one foot and double that number! That’s your cadence. Or, if high-tech gadgets are more up your alley, use a fitness app or a smartwatch – they’ve got that whole ‘measuring’ thing covered for ya.
How to Improve Your Running Cadence
As you can see, finding your ideal running cadence and keeping track of improvements to your running speed and running efficiency is an important set of metrics.
The most effective way to improve your cadence is to actively practice and keep track of the number of steps you take every minute. This can be achieved by aiming for 180 steps per minute, which is the average for experienced runners.
You can use a watch or timer to help track and measure your progress.
Additionally, paying attention to body mechanics such as posture and arm swing helps maintain an even cadence while running. Keeping strides short and powerful will improve coordination and rhythm so you can experience more efficient running. With consistency, dedication, and practice, you are sure to see significant improvements in your running cadence.
How to Improve Your Running Cadence Through Drills and Exercises
Improving your running cadence through drills and exercises can be a great way to help increase efficiency and performance while running. Many drills target both form and mechanics, as well as strength and power.
One drill is called the high knee skip. This involves skipping with a high knee movement, making sure to keep your hips forward and chest up as you move forward. This helps to engage your core muscles, improving balance and coordination while running.
Another drill is the A-skip. This exercise focuses on increasing foot speed by focusing on quick ankle flexion with each step. It also helps improve knee lift for a larger vertical displacement with each stride, helping runners achieve a higher running cadence in the long run.
Strength training is another important aspect of improving your running cadence. Squats, lunges, leg presses, and calf raises are all great exercises for building leg strength which will help you run faster with each step.
Core exercises such as planks and Russian twists also help improve posture while running which can affect cadence as well.
Finally, it’s important to practice at different speeds to develop an understanding of how pace affects cadence. Incorporating intervals into your routine is a great way to challenge yourself by pushing beyond physical boundaries so that you can gain insight into how small speed changes affect your overall cadence.
Sample Running Workouts to Increase Your Cadence
Any good running coach will encourage you to become a faster runner by including activities such as interval training, hill sprints, and drills designed to target specific muscles and techniques.
Interval training is a great way to practice running faster for short bursts of time to build endurance and strength. This type of training helps runners push themselves over several minutes at a higher intensity, allowing them to achieve a higher cadence when it comes time for race day.
Hill sprints are also great for increasing running tempo as they require more effort from the legs and core muscles to make it up the incline.
These “real world” activities will help you to develop a stride with a good rhythm that will feel natural.
A Final Word on Good Running Cadence
Do you want to run faster, and with more power? Do you find yourself breathless after short distances? If so, it might be time to look into how your running cadence could use a little help.
By improving your steps per minute (SPM), the focus of our blog post today, you can make running smoother and less of an effort. So put on your trainers and get ready for a witty jog down the path of knowledge!