4 Simple Tips To Increase Running Cadence (Guest Post by Cara Haley!)

The following is a guest post by our friend Cara Haley from Fitaholic Gear

Running, as all runners know,  is quite a repetitive sport, and also one associated with a wide variety of possible injuries. The running cadence is the number of strikes made by your feet for a set period of time.

By increasing your running cadence, you increase your speed and improve your performance. Also, by improving your running cadence you decrease the risks of shin splints and other running related injuries, and improve your ability for long term, healthy running.

To determine your running cadence, count the number of times one of your feet steps on the ground for one minute when running. Multiply it by two and you will get your cadence. You should do that to determine both your training cadence and your racing cadence. Of course, your cadence is affected by the terrain you are running on, the conditions, as well the length of your running stride.

The majority of the runners consider 180 steps per minute to be the cadence to strive for.

There are ways to increase the running cadence. Here are 4 simple tips to help you do that:

  1. You need to determine your running cadence in order to attempt to increase it.
    So, measure it, and re-measure it periodically to calculate your cadence. Consider wearing fitness gear, such as a watch with enabled GPS which has a metronome and accelerometer to keep track of your cadence and your progress.

    When you first start to increase your cadence, your running will feel different than usual. Do not overdo it, and try to increase the strikes of your feet slowly. This will make the progress feel more natural and will not hinder your performance or increase the risk of injuries.
    Try increasing your cadence by 5% at a time. Once you are used to the increased cadence you can opt for another increase of 5%. Take it slowly but surely.

  2. Try listening to music with a faster rhythm while you are running.
    You will find that your feet will tend to follow the rhythm, and this can help increase the cadence naturally as well. All you need is a small mp3 player such as one of these here. There are various websites which provide playlists and music which is suitable for increasing the number of steps you make per minute.
  3. You can also use a metronome to provide you with the pace rate you are striving for.
    Just follow the beats or clicks to increase your steps per minute.
  4. Visualize your running cadence in a mental rehearsal of your run.
    By visualizing the result you want to reach you train your brain and it will in turn train the body to automatically adjust to the new cadence. You can also try running in place in front of a mirror with your feet at a shoulder-width.

    Position your arms as if you are running, and start running in place. Bring the knees half way up and run as fast as you can on one spot. The knees need to be pointing straight ahead, and your heels shouldn’t touch the ground as you are doing that. Run for 20 seconds and rest for a minute after that.

    Keep track of the number of foot strikes you make for each run. Repeat the running twice. Do this exercise two times a week, and keep track of your progress. This exercise helps train the feet to leave the ground as soon as possible when running, which leads to an increase of cadence.

Remember the 5% rule, and stay safe at all times when working on increasing your cadence. This is the best way to do it, and will keep you safe from injuries from overtraining.

Written by C.Haley: Cara is addicted to running, fitness, preparing healthy food, and spending time with her family. She blogs for Fitaholic Gear, Comfort Hacks and a number of other sites, as she wants share her passion for fitness with those who are looking to make lasting lifestyle changes.

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Barefoot Basics #3: Cadence

Written by Barefoot Dawsy

If you want to adjust one element of your running form in order to gain the most benefit, then it’s pretty hard to go past cadence. Most of us, especially when shod, tend to settle into a loping, low cadence run. The exception to this is trained athletes and runners who never or seldom wear shoes.

Part of the reason why low cadence is so common is because in shoes it can be more comfortable and seem easier than the alternative. What this ends up doing however, is increase the amount of time your foot spends on the ground.

When you run with a high ~3 steps per second cadence, you remain airborne slightly longer than you would otherwise. Over short distances the difference can be negligible but for longer runs, such as half and full marathons, the reduced friction can take minutes off your time with no extra effort.

There are other benefits of high cadence as well, as it naturally discourages over striding. Over striding is commonly viewed as one of the biggest no-nos in running as it can cause injury and degrade performance. In order to run with a high cadence, you will need to take shorter strides, which will keep your feet directly beneath your centre of gravity, where they should be.

So the next time you go out for a run, focus on spinning those feet and once you get used to it, you’ll never look back!

 

6 Weeks to Barefoot Running – Part 4: Cadence

Written by Barefoot Dawsy

<<Back to Part 3: Lifting Your Feet or Start From The Top

4 weeks have passed since our first barefoot running session, and you should be starting to feel just a little bit like a barefoot runner. If you’ve been following along, you should now understand how to land and lift your foot, and the importance of bending your knees. Up until now, we’ve focused on drills for reinfricing these elements, but now it’s time to do some running!

This week, I’m going to introduce you to the king of barefoot running techniques – the 180 step per minute cadence. As Dr Dan Lieberman said at a recent clinic, “Cadence is King”. The reason for this is that if you get your cadence up to the 180 steps per munute level, you will automatically gain better posture, better form, and be able to tackle advanced running techniques such as downhill running.

So what is cadence, and why is it so important? In a nutshell, cadence is the rate at which you step as you run. By increasing your cadence, you end up spending more time in the air and less time with your feet on the ground. This reduces friction, which in turn will reduce the resistance against your bidy as you run, which will translate into better efficiency and faster times.

Session 1

As usual, we’er going to start with a run. Head out at a slow pace and run for around 10 minutes. Feel free to choose any route you like, but ideally you want to avoid grass as much as possible and pick a hard surface to run on. The last thing you need at this point is to step on something hidden in the grass, or pick up bad habits as a result of running on forgiving terrain.

As you run, focus on the lessons of the past few weeks: bend your knees, land softly, and lift your feet. Don’t worry about speed at this point, just run nice and easy, and breathe through your nose. You should be able to talk comfortably at this pace (though keep your voice down or people might give you funny looks!).

Check your feet for blisters and your legs for soreness. A little bit is ok, but if you have rock hard calves, sore achilles tendons, or sore feet, then take a couple days off and repeat this session until you can do it without pain. Listen to your feet as you run and try to keep the lessons in mind.

Assuming you’re ready, go on to the next session.

Session 2

Today we’re working on getting your cadence up. To do this, you’re going to need a watch, clock, metronome, or some other tool that you can use to measure seconds.

With your measuring device where you can see or hear it, start running in place. You want to aim to take 3 steps per second (eg; left, right, left). You may feel like you’re moving too fast at this point, and it can be a bit daunting.

To compensate for the speed increase, try lifting your feet only enough to get them off the ground. This should result in a sort of shuffle. Running like this is much more energy efficient at low speeds and will greatly increase your ability to run longer distances without injury.

Now, keep shuffling and push your hips forward slightly. You should get the urge to move forward. Go ahead and let yourself move. Shuffle along for about 30 or so steps then turn and come back. Do this a few times until you get the feel for it.

Session 3

Now that you have the basic shuffling motion sorted, we’re going to take it to the streets. Pick a nice 5-10 minute route for a run. Try to find one that is mostly flat as for now it will be easiest to learn on.

Head out for your jog, and focus on keeping your cadence up to 3 steps per second. A simple way to do this is to find a song to step along to in your head. The best songs for this are waltzes, which have a 1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2-3 sort of beat. I normally end up getting the Beatles’ song Norwegian Wood stuck in my head when I’m running because of this!

Sessions 4 & 5

This week we’re going to repeat the 4th session twice. All you need to do at this level is to keep practicing your running, focusing on all the different techniques we’ve learned so far. Try to go a little further than you did on your previous session, but don’t increase the distance by more than 20% at this point. As always, listen to your body and try to figure out what it’s telling you. If you feel any pain, slow down, adjust your style, and if you can’t make the sore bit feel better, then walk the rest of the way.

Scorecard

  1. 10 minute run complete
  2. Learn to shuffle
  3. 1k run complete
  4. Session 4 run complete
  5. Session 5 run complete
  6. No blisters/soreness

On to Part 5: Posture >>