Cadence & Running

Many recreational athletes take 150-160 Steps pre minute. Tests show that slower turn-over costs more energy. The aim is to have a quick and light ground contact time, so you spend less time on the ground and more time in the air moving forward!

One great way to increase your cadence is to practice running using a small digital metronome, set to a specific rhythm (desired cadence). Try for short bursts initially to match your running stride frequency to the beeping without speeding up your running pace. Initially this will feel strange, even a little forced, but you will get used to the increased rhythm. 

The goal shouldn’t just be to continue to increase your cadence rate, but more so to elevate it to a comfortable but more active rate (for a desired pace), then use a metronome to work on sustaining this rate of cadence across the duration of your long runs (or other sessions) as you fatigue. The tendency will be for cadence to drop as you fatigue.

 Unnaturally forcing an uncomfortably high cadence too soon can result in it’s own technique issues. This is the main reason for suggesting that you don’t jump straight to 180spm, rather you increase by 5%, then 5% again once comfortable… and so on…!

 Increasing running cadence by 5-10% is associated with multiple benefits:

o   The hip and knee absorb significantly less mechanical energy. (Heiderscheit, 2011)

o   Peak hip adduction and internal rotation moments decrease. (Heiderscheit, 2011)

o   Center of mass vertical excursion, braking impulse, and peak knee flexion angle all significantly decrease. (Heiderscheit, 2011)

o   Patellofemoral joint force is reduced by 14%. (Lenhart, 2014)

o   Gluteus medius and maximus activity increases during the late swing phase. (Chumanov, 2012)

o   Pressure and force variables in the heel and metatarsal regions are reduced by 565 body weights*second (BW*s) and 140-170 BW*s per mile, respectively. (Wellenkotter, 2014)

Posted on January 11, 2015 .