Stride Your Way to Success
Are you looking to improve your running performance, reduce the risk of injury, and boost your overall efficiency? One of the key factors that can make a significant difference in your running experience is your running cadence. Cadence refers to the number of steps you take per minute whilst running. It might not be as commonly discussed as other running metrics, but it plays a crucial role in shaping your running style and ultimately influencing your running success.
What is Running Cadence?
Running cadence, also known as stride rate, is the number of steps a runner takes per minute. It is often measured in strides per minute or steps per minute (spm). For example, a cadence of 180 means you take 90 steps with each foot in a minute, so 180 steps with both feet combined.
Why is Cadence Important?
- Injury Prevention: Maintaining an optimal running cadence can help reduce the risk of certain injuries, especially those related to over-striding. Over-striding occurs when your foot lands too far in front of your body’s centre of mass, increasing the impact on your joints and increasing the risk of injuries like shin splints, stress fractures, and knee issues. A higher cadence typically promotes shorter, quicker steps, which can alleviate these problems.
- Efficiency and Endurance: A higher running cadence (to a point) is associated with a more efficient running form. Shorter, quicker steps allow you to spend less time in the air between strides, reducing ground contact time. This not only enhances your running economy but also helps in conserving energy during long-distance runs, improving your endurance.
- Pacing and Speed Improvement: Cadence is directly linked to your running speed. Increasing your cadence often leads to an increase in your pace. When you maintain a consistent cadence, you can make adjustments in stride length to increase or decrease your speed without putting extra stress on your body. In general, as speed increases, cadence change is relatively small (4% increase) while stride length can change as much as 63%.
- Symmetry and Running Form: Monitoring your cadence can give you insights into the symmetry of your running form. A significant difference in your ground contact time/balance between your left and right sides may indicate an imbalance that you can address to improve your overall performance.
How to Measure and Improve Your Running Cadence?
To measure your running cadence, you can use various fitness gadgets, such as GPS watches, running pods, or smartphone apps, the NoblePro treadmill will also show your cadence. These devices can provide real-time feedback on your cadence during your runs.
Here are some tips to improve your running cadence:
- Listen to Music with the Right Tempo: Listening to music with a higher beats-per-minute (BPM) count can subconsciously influence your cadence and help you run with a quicker rhythm.
- Metronome Training: You can use a metronome app such as RunCadence or a metronome feature on your running watch to set a specific cadence goal and practice running in sync with the metronome beat. Your NoblePro treadmill will also show your cadence.
- Gradual Increase: Trying to drastically increase your cadence all at once can lead to muscle fatigue and injury due to an excess of accumulative load. Instead, focus on making gradual improvements over time. Ideally an increase of 5-10% above your current norm will suffice. Any more than this will significantly increase the accumulative load and could increase your risk of injury.
- Short, Quick Steps: Concentrate on taking shorter, quicker steps rather than longer strides. Imagine your feet lightly touching the ground with each step. Avoid reaching forward with the leg and drive the floor away from underneath you.
- Run Hills and Speed Drills: Running hill repeats and speed drills can help improve your cadence and build strength in your running muscles.
- Ensure you leave the floor: 180 steps per min is a bit of a myth as everyone is different. Running involves a flight phase where both feet are off the floor. If you don’t have this it will negatively impact your performance and you may need to reduce you cadence and/or improve your strength to help with propulsion.
- Practice: Using a treadmill such as NoblePro will mean you can keep the same pace while working on improving your cadence.
- Video Analysis: Consider getting a professional gait analysis to identify any form issues and get personalised tips on how to improve your running cadence. Do your research and speak to a clinician, making sure they have a good understanding of your goals and needs.
Running cadence might not be the most glamorous aspect of running, but it holds tremendous potential to transform your running experience for the better. By increasing your cadence and running with a higher stride rate, you can significantly enhance your running efficiency, reduce the risk of injuries, and elevate your overall performance. So, next time you hit the pavement or the trail, pay attention to your cadence and stride your way to running success! Happy running!