Drills to increase Cadence?

by Tom
(Arlington Heights, IL USA)

Everywhere I've read mentions that the "ideal" stride rate for a runner is between 180 and 190 steps per minute. Also, I've had coaches and friends tell me my stride is too long, and that I bounce too much. I've read that a too long stride rate can contribute to bouncing too much.

When I count my stride rate, I'm pretty much locked in at 160 per minute. I'm 44 and have been running since the age of 16. During a 1/2 Marathon race last weekend, I counted my cadence a few times during the race and it was between 160 and 164 each time. Even doing interval work I've counted my cadence and I can't get above this 160-164 barrier.

Can you recommend any drills to help increase my stride rate?

Thanks much,


Answer by Dominique:

Hi Tom,
Thanks for your running training question about increasing stride rate. Great picture again of you and your son!

You are right, the usual number quoted is 180 - 190 steps per minute. Elite runners will have that stride rate. Us mere mortals usually have a lower stride rate.

Changing your stride rate is pretty tough, because you will need to change your natural way of moving. And you have been running in a certain way for the past 30 years, probably your whole life, so you need to understand that it will take a few frustrating months or even more to develop a faster stride rate.

A good exercise to increase your stride rate is to do quick short strides after each run. You could make them bursts of about 30 metre each in which you take very quick steps. Try to lift your knees up high and make those legs move as fast as you can. Repeat at least ten times in a session.

Another exercise is to run with a metronome. I used one when I was playing the guitar in a former life. I had to practice a piece with another guy. We studied separate from eachother most of the time, but we each used a metronome which dictated how fast we should play to make sure we were studying it at the same pace.

So run with the metronome and set it to 180 bpm and then try to keep up with it. This can be fairly frustrating and exhausting in the beginning. What can be easier is to not start with 180 bpm but say 166 bpm. Once you have done that a number of training sessions and you are getting used to that, go to 170 bpm, etc.
You can pick one up at your local music store at about $15 - $25.

I have to warn you: this type of training can be rewarding, but also extremely frustrating. It will take a decent period for you to adjust your stride rate.

Also see this page about running cadence.

Best of luck.
Kind regards,

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