I have improved a lot my cycling skills from working my cadence, now I have turned the focus to running. An ideal cadence will help with proper form and stride length, which will yield less energy use and less strain on the body – specially knees and joints. Elite runners will run at over 180 steps per minute (spm), while a fair goal could be a range of 175 – 185, which of course accommodates different types of athletes, goals, and etc. (click here to read about cycling cadence for triathlon)
James Dunne presents an experiment where he had an athlete initially run his natural 156 spm and then run using a metronome at 172 spm. Without changing the pace, nor asking the athlete to change his form, it was visible that the entrance of his gait improved as the hill strike was much less aggressive, see picture below.
Increasing the cadence leads to a more nimble stride and is a great reference for training and race day, since, as observed, maintaining an ideal cadence will lead to better form. Some of the aspects of good form are pointed-out by John Hinds: shorter strides and initial ground contact closer to the center-of-mass, better stance and knee bend, and reduced vertical oscillation, all of which are favored by a higher cadence.
Pose Method Running advocates that a cadence of 180spm and above will stimulate muscle-tendon elasticity and for an average runner (moving from around 165spm to 180spm) in 12 weeks mechanical efficiency can improve 50% and oxygen consumption reduce 20%
How to measure cadence?
One away is to count the amount of steps per minute, or count the amount of steps in 10 seconds and multiply by 6. It is also possible to use metronomes or food pods. I have recently acquired a Garmin 920xt which will do the job. In fact, I have used it for the first time and verified I need to improve a bit my cadence. My average cadence for the 10k run was 168, ideally it should be at least in the 174 to 183 spm range, which is indicated by the blue dots, but most of the run I was in the green dots area (164 to 173 spm). The downward arrows on the picture below show the level where the cadence should be maintain – need to work on that!!
Most of the information here is sourced from videos of James Dunne from Kinetic Revolution, John Hinds and Grant Robison, all three videos are referenced below.
James Dunne – Running Cadence
Grant Robison – Good Form Running
John Hinds – Learn How to Run Your Best
featured picture from the Race Consultoria Esportiva website <Race Facebook Page>