How to run faster: Cadence

Running cadence is effectively the number of steps you can take per minute and this has been shown to attribute to a better economy and faster running as well as reducing injury. Which is a win right?

We all want to be faster and less injury-prone! If we look at elite runners or your typically ‘fast’ runner, they will generally have a cadence on the high side, usually around that of 180 steps per minute.

This has been recorded to be the ‘Magic number’ when it comes to your steps per minute. So it MAY be something to work towards.

Of course, like everything, it isn’t a one rule fits all principle, but a general rule of thumb, so it’s worth trying to see whether improving your cadence will indeed help you become faster and efficient. Some runners will have longer strides, lower cadences, and still boss times.

Like a lot of things in running, it’s all dependant on your own personal biomechanics.

Monitoring your cadence can be kind of tricky and there is a couple of ways to do this.

Stopwatch method – During this method, you will count your steps on one foot across the minute then multiply this by two… You have two feet right? This will be a pretty accurate way on how to assess your current cadence rate

The smartwatch method – During this method you find your smartwatch and see if it has a cadence rate on it – most of them do nowadays if you have a good model. This method I find is less accurate, but possibly a lot easier to monitor than the above method.

To improve your cadence the best method I have found is to use either a metronome app set to your desired steps per minute (180) or sometimes your smartwatch will have this mode built-in for ease of use.

I like to utilise this during easy runs in some short intervals, such as 1 – 2 minutes, and to follow the metronomes beats whilst trying to keep my HR low. You can increase this over several weeks Your HR may raise out of the zone, but over time your body will start to become more efficient at this cadence and your HR will level out.

Hopefully, this has helped. Feel free to reach out if you need any further advice or coaching needs.

Jake Barber

Jake is an online run coach who specialises in Endurance and OCR events.


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