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  • Melissa Paauwe

The Importance of Running Cadence

This week I want to talk about cadence, with focus on two things: 1) Why do we care about cadence? 2) How can we improve it?

1. Speed = stride rate + stride length. Simply put, a faster stride rate (aka: cadence) will help you go faster. But that’s not all a quicker cadence can do. It can also help reduce our exposure to injury because a faster leg turnover equates to less impact on joints and ligaments. If you’re already running around a stride rate of 170 – 180 in your easy run days, this probably isn’t the side of the equation you need to work on, as much; however, non-elite runners tend to self-select a cadence that is a little lower than optimal. The good news is – it’s an area that can be worked on and make running feel easier. Check your cadence on your next upload.


2. Now that you’ve determined you need to improve your cadence, the next question is how do you go about doing it? If you’re running at a cadence of 150, don’t attempt to run 170 the next time you’re out. Aim to increase it 5-10 spm and once that feels natural and your aerobic system has adapted to the faster leg turnover, you can work on increasing it more. Be aware that your heart rate will likely increase until your cardiovascular system adapts to the increased leg turnover. But you will come out a faster, fitter version of yourself simply by working on stride rate. This past year I had four clients reach new personal bests in the 10k, half marathon and marathon distances that had been runners for many years. The main reason: cadence. As soon as I saw them run for the first time I could tell they had some efficiencies to gain in their stride rate. One client had attempted to break 90 mins in the half marathon multiple times. Within a few months of correcting his cadence he ran a 1:26 and went on to run a 1:23 another month later. Tried, tested, and true…it works!

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