A while back, I read an article on running cadence and how it can help you become a faster runner. I was intrigued, because I have never really thought about my cadence. I know it’s a statistic that your Garmin can generate for you, but beyond that, I didn’t really consider its role in my training.
What is your running cadence?
Cadence is the average number of steps you take in a minute, also known as your stride rate. If you don’t have a Garmin with the foot pod or the Nike plus, an easy way to determine your cadence is to count the number of steps you take with your right foot in a minute and multiply by two.
How can increasing my cadence make me a better runner?
Most elite distance runners have a cadence of between 180 and 190, while the average recreational runner is probably between 160 and 170. Generally, the slower your cadence, the higher your foot is off the ground. The higher your foot is off the ground, the harder the impact when it strikes the ground. Therefore, increasing your cadence should lessen your chance of injury. Increasing your stride rate also means more leg turnover, which leads to faster running.
How can I improve my cadence?
There are two fairly effective things you can do on your own to help increase your cadence. You can add strides to a couple of your weekly runs. Strides are about 20 to 30 seconds long. Accelerate to your 5k pace and then decrease when you hit the end. You should allow yourself to recover completely between strides. Start with a few and then work up from there. These exercises are sneaky little ways of getting more speed work into your weekly runs, and they help with your leg turnover. I do them after training runs at least twice a week. Another trick is to use a metronome. I installed a metronome app for my iPhone. I set it to 180 and will occasionally listen to it at the beginning of a run to get my rhythm right, and then I switch over to a playlist. So go ahead and give it a try on your next run. Check your cadence and work towards 180!
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