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Improve Your Running Cadence
Improving running cadence is a much neglected part
running training. But I hope that this is about to change for
you. Read this section carefully so you too will know how to
improve your times!
We do our base building, our intervals, tempo work.
But I don't know many runners who actively work on their running
Running cadence? I hear you thinking. What is that supposed to be?
It is often referred to as stride rate as well.
Does that ring a bell?
Or let me ask
you this question...
Do you run like a gazelle or do you
run like an elephant?
It is, hopefully ... :), obvious that running like a gazelle is more
efficient than running like an elephant.
this about efficiency, often referred to as running economy as well.
Your running economy incorporates more than running cadence alone. It
is about all those elements that together define how much energy you
use to move yourself forward.
But in this section I focus on running cadence.
I'll provide answers to the following questions:
What should my running cadence be ?
How can I improve my running cadence ?
The official definition :
Running cadence / Stride rate = The number of steps you take on average
Or do you run like a
What Should My Running Cadence Be?
Easy. It has been studied. It has been proven. Elite runners
run at a stride rate of 180-190 steps per minute. Any
official race from 800 metres up proves this point.
Most of the time it is not that easy to see, when you are watching TV.
But next time when championship races are being broadcasted, you should
have a try.
Count the number of steps a competitor takes with his right foot during
15 seconds. Multiply by two (we can assume the athlete takes the same
number of steps with his/her left foot as well... :)).
Then multiply by four to get the number of steps per minute.
I assure you, you will get close to 180. Does not matter whether you
watch a 5K or a marathon race. Only difference is that the
athletes running a 5K take bigger steps
and are therefore going faster than the athletes doing a marathon.
How Can I Improve My Running Cadence?
First, establish your starting point.
Go for a run.
During one full minute count the number of steps you take with your
Multiply by two and you have your running cadence.
The usual situation is that you are doing less than 180 steps per
You most likely find your stride rate to be about 163-165 steps per
To increase your stride rate you need to learn to take your steps
quicker. It is a bit hard to explain, but it should feel like you take
lighter steps. Baby steps.
Try to run as if you are not allowed to touch the ground.
A couple of exercises which could help you :
Quick short strides
Run short strides (20-30 metres) with very quick
steps. Lift your knees up high and go as fast as you can.
Jog for a short while and then repeat. Repeat at least ten times.
Musicians use metronomes to keep playing at the right speed. Runners
can use metronomes as well to take the correct number of
steps per minute. In the beginning the metronome might be a
bit frustrating, it was for me. But after a while it does get
easier to keep up with it.
here for more information about the Seiko DM50 Compact Metronome
Do these special exercises maybe twice a week. For
ten minutes or so.
What I do is I take my metronome with me on my easy runs and just use
it for 10-15 minutes in the run.
Not too long. You want to make changes gradually. Above all, running at
a stride rate faster than what you are used to is straight out annoying!
So, do it for short periods at a time, but keep at it. Two, three
months. Test yourself in between to see if your stride rate improves.
And continue with the exercises. You will want this changed way of
running to become second nature. And it is very hard to break habits,
so it may take months and months.
So do this regularly. Do this
often. Keep on doing it. Only then you will have a chance to
fight off those old habits.
Eventually your stride rate will improve. And
there is a really, really good chance that your times on all racing
distances will have improved in the meantime as well.
After all, running 15-17
steps per minute extra is going to add up over
will pay off to focus some part of your training on your running
cadence. A better
running economy results in lower energy use. And that
makes it possible for you to go longer, further and faster. And that's
what we do it for, don't you agree?
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