Improving Your Running Cadence Range

May 11, 2012   //   by James Dunne   //   Biomechanics & Running Technique  //  7 Comments  //  Affiliate Disclosure  

Frequently when working with athletes to improve running efficiency, one of the main considerations is to reduce impact and braking forces on foot strike, by reducing the tendency to over stride (land the foot ahead of the centre of mass).

One of the most simple and highly effective ways to achieve this is to increase running cadence at a given pace.

Running Cadence Range

We often refer to an athlete’s cadence range. This refers to the natural differences shown in running cadence of an individual’s gait at an easy pace compared to a hard pace.

As discussed in a previous blog post, the “magic number” approach of striving to hit 90-92 strides per minute, regardless of running pace is fundamentally flawed when applied to endurance running: A runner will naturally run with a slightly  slower rate of cadence when running “easy” compared to when running at a “hard” pace.

This is shown on the graphically represented example below.

Overstriding Scale

The key to improving efficiency through manipulating cadence is to shift the cadence range to the right by initially increasing it by 5%.

The “Easy Pace” cadence, previously 82spm will become 86spm, while the “Hard Pace” changes from 88spm to 92spm.

All of which will result in less over striding at a given pace, compared to the lower cadence version of the same pace.

About The Author

James has an academic background in Sport Rehabilitation and a special interest in Applied Biomechanics. He currently coaches a large number of Runners and Triathletes across all levels of ability and performance. He's grown a strong reputation for enabling athletes to improve their running performance and overcome running injuries through improving their Running Technique and developing Running Specific Strength.

 

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7 Comments

  • This is a great article. I have been working on increasing my cadence and improving my running form for a while now. It took a lot of adjusting to get used to increasing my cadence versus my old style of lengthening my stride out in front of me. But once I was able to change I noticed a big difference in my speed and exertion level.

  • I was wondering if trail running could be used as rehab for Achilles tendinosis.

  • […] I was first introduced to the magic of high cadence while studying the Pose running method. Pose suggests that a cadence of 180 steps per minute is ideal because it allows you to benefit from the natural elasticity in your tendons. Think of your feet as being basketballs. When a basketball hits the ground, it stays for a specific amount of time before rebounding back up. When you run with a low cadence, you are basically holding your foot on the ground when it naturally wants to “bounce” off and rise again. In order to get your foot off the ground, you then need to push off the ground. This cadence is also recommended by Chi Running and a number of other running schools. […]

  • With me I tend to have a cadence of 165-175 for easy runs; while faster runs I hit 179-182. At faster paces I automatically pick up the speed of my legs going forward, hence the higher cadence. I know that the cadence should remain the same at all speeds but that is easier said than done.

  • Hi James, thanks for following me on twitter @yooglecas i had a look at your site and would be intrested to know how you would evaluate cadence, vertical osolation and contact time that is being mesured by new watches in the Garmin range.
    for example i guess that higher cadence would reduce vertical osolation and increase contact time if we are running at a gliding motion rather than high knee long gaint running used by top Keyan runners where we would see higher vertical data and less contact time.

    thanks very much.
    caspar
    murcia
    spain

  • I am trying to increase my cadence. I weigh just over 13st and about 6ft 1″. Cadence Currently at around 160-165. The problem I find is breathless as I increase cadence. I am running 10k in 42 and aiming for 40 and 134 for a half and aiming for 130. Any tips please?!

  • Any tips on how to control your breathing as you increase cadence? I’m struggling!!!

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