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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.