Using Cadence to Run Better Off The Bike
Want To Run More Comfortably Off The Bike?
This article takes three concepts (two of them common myths) and puts them together to help you run better of the bike.
Putting It All Together
Higher Cadence Cycling is more energy efficient with little/no loss in power, higher cadence running is more efficient, an athlete doesn’t need to change their cadence between the bike and the run. In summary this means:
Find your natural common cadence for the bike AND the run.
There are a number of muscles that are common when cycling and running such as the hamstrings and Vastus Medialis (VM). If a muscles has been firing at a certain tempo for 1,2 or even 6 hours it makes logical sense to continue firing at the same tempo on the run rather than try and find a new pattern.
For most triathletes this ‘common point’ is a cadence of around 94 RPM and a step rate of 188 (which is a leg RPM of 94) although this obviously varies for individuals. Creating a disconnect between these two firing rhythms is a common cause of cramping or lack of co-ordination/propioception (feel) when running off the bike. Notice that the two muscles I mentioned – hamstrings and VM are also the two that are the most common areas for cramping when running off the bike?
Every physical object has a natural frequency and there are physical formulas to calculate this based on mass, length etc. Given there are some many parts to the human body it is almost impossible to calculate but is often easy to identify by feel.
Try running at a comfortable-uncomfortable pace, a pace that feel hard but that you can sustain (often this equates to Threshold or ‘Tempo’ Pace) and you will often find this feels ‘natural’. Try this and note your stride rate. From my experience however I often find triathletes need to lift their run cadence so actually do this test on the bike and then adjust the run cadence.
On your next brick session try matching your run cadence (either use a foot pod or count steps for 15 seconds) and your bike cadence and note how much more comfortable it feels.