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  • Writer's pictureHenry Wright

Why Should I Increase My Cadence?

This is a common question that I get from newer runners in our group sessions.

What is running cadence?

Sometimes also called stride rate, cadence is the number of steps (both feet) that you take per minute whilst you are running.

Generally runners with a high cadence have a smoother gait, whilst runners with a low cadence tend to bounce up and down more. The most notable difference between runners with high and low cadence is that low cadence runners are more likely to overstrike and thus have a higher risk of injury.

The most ideal cadence for runners is 180 steps per minute. That doesn’t mean that you have to run exactly 180 steps per minute, it is a statistical average, and you will most probably take more or less steps per minute. To find your cadence run at a tempo pace for 1 min and count how many times either your left or right foot touches the ground. Double the steps you take in the 1 min and you’ve got your cadence.

Tips for increasing your cadence:

  1. Try to avoid speeding up your pace whilst increasing your cadence. Watch your Heart Rate and try to increase your cadence whilst keeping the HR in the intended zone. You can also monitor your pace in the same way.

  2. Try to increase your cadence by only 10% at a time. Increasing your cadence by more than 10% requires greater oxygen consumption and therefore will increase your Rate of Perceived Exertion. Take your current cadence and multiply by 1.05 to get this number.

  3. Once comfortable running with a 10% higher cadence than before for a few months then you can repeat the process again.

  4. Incorporate drills that naturally improve your cadence as well. Note that these need to be done with good form otherwise you will increase your risk of injury. Our two favourites are: Strides: Once or twice per week incorporate some fast bursts of 100m with 60-90 secs rest between each into your sessions. Suggest to begin with 4 and gradually increase to 8-10. Hill Reps: Incline of 4-8%, run hard up for 30-60 secs focusing on quick cadence and upright posture (don’t bend forward from the hips). Jog or walk back down between each and repeat 4-10 reps depending on your fitness.

As always try not to make hugely drastic changes quickly as you don’t want to overload your body and become injured. Gradually work on it over time, and hopefully you’ll be running faster and injury free!

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