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> Running cadence – how to run better? 

Running cadence – how to run better? 

Publish date 30.09.2022

You can read it in 7 minut

Running cadence – how to run better? 

Do you often have a watch with you, that will tell you how many steps you took during the day? If you are a professional runner then you may have one with you right now. 

This watch’s important for runners because it has many practical functions and can help you during your training. But what is more important is that the watch can count the steps that you take during the day. Why is it so important? Because thanks to this you can count your running cadence. What is cadence in running? How to increase it? This and many more, you will find out in this article. 

What is cadence in running? 

Before we move on to other points in this article, it is useful to familiarize ourselves with the concept of cadence. Running cadence is the number of steps taken per minute.

It can be defined in two ways. 

  • If the cadence is equal to 90, it is the number of steps for one leg. Therefore, if you want to calculate for two, you need to multiply the number 2 times.
  • if the cadence comes out around 200, it means that it was calculated for both legs. 

How to calculate the cadence of a run? 

It’s very simple and anyone can do it without any additional instrument or app. All you need to do is carefully count each step you take while running.

Normally you should count them for 60 seconds to get a good result. However, you can also count them for 30 seconds and then multiply the result times 2. 

Running cadence - how to calculate

How else do you measure a runner’s cadence? 

Watch 

If you have a sports watch you may have a cadence counting function in it. You probably thought before that it was an unnecessary function and never used it. Now, however, you already know that it is worth using it during a run. 

Application 

You can also download an app on your phone to help calculate your cadence, and you won’t have to think about counting each step.

Foot pod sensor 

You can also attach a Foot pod sensor to your shoe, which will measure the runner’s cadence, throughout the workout. Then you will have accurate data. 

As you can see, there are several interesting options for counting your cadence while running. If you don’t want to spend money on special gadgets for this purpose just use self-counting. This is the easiest and most accurate way (until something distracts you and you forget what number you stopped counting 😉 ).

What is a good cadence for running?

There is no one particular and precisely calculated running cadence that will suit every runner. It all depends on your characteristics, such as height, strength, and running mechanics. 

Previously the standard accepted by everyone was a cadence of 180 steps per minute. 

Why exactly that many steps? 

It all started with coach Jack Daniels, who conducted a study on a group of runners during the 1984 Olympics in the United States. he discovered that most of them were running 180 steps per minute, and this is why they found this running cadence to be the best. 

Times have changed, and it is now recognized that everyone should approach this parameter individually. The main factor of cadence is height. Naturally, a taller runner will have a lower cadence as they take longer steps than a shorter person. 

What is a good cadence for running? Now you know 🙂 

NOTE: Despite that, it is believed that every runner should adjust their cadence, still many runners think that the best standard is before mentioned 180 steps per minute. This is why we will focus on this particular number in the next subsection. 

Running cadence – advantages 

You already know what running cadence is. Now we will move on to how it affects efficient, economical, and safe running.

Thanks to the appropriate running cadence you can set the rhythm for your running. With time, your body will learn what pace is the best for you. When you get the urge to run faster, the cadence will be higher. 

As I mentioned earlier, in this section we will together focus on 180 steps per minute. What will such a cadence allow you to do – as a runner? Find out for yourself, there are a few advantages. 

NOTE: Probably, during running, you do not achieve 180 steps per minute. Despite that, I will show you what will change when you pick up the pace and will try to keep up to achieve this number. 

  • will allow you to run faster – it can be simply stated that higher step frequency is associated with faster running speed. 
  • lower risk of injury – why? Because you are dealing with fewer ground reaction forces. 
  • shorter foot contact with the ground:
  • the foot is closer to the ground, 
  • shorter time spent in the air. 
  • you experience less body fatigue – all because at a higher cadence your VO2 consumption is lower. 
  • you use less energy – you will extend your training time, and you will feel fatigued later.
  • landing on the midfoot
  • landing more under the body’s center of gravity – this positioning will make it easier to land on the midfoot.  

Because of the last two points, you may be wondering why land on the midfoot when running. If you want to learn more about good running techniques, then read the article about which is better – running from the midfoot or from the heel

Remember, though: only higher cadence ≠ faster run. 

But why? After all, by running faster I take more steps per minute. So I must run faster!

Not really. It may seem that way, but it’s only by combining a high cadence with good dynamics and short foot contact with the ground that you can improve your speed.

Good running cadence - how to achieve it

How to achieve a good running cadence?

This question is difficult to answer. Of course, if you are a professional runner, then you certainly already have an idea of the pace with which you run and it will be easier for you to get a satisfactory cadence. 

The case is different when dealing with a beginner runner. You sit at your desk at work for a long time and sit in front of the TV at home. You want to change your lifestyle and start running. Don’t delude yourself that you will quickly get a high cadence. It’s not that easy. 

Don’t think about increasing your cadence in a few months – it may even take a few years. However, don’t be discouraged! Do you know the saying “practice makes perfect”? If so, then you know what to do: don’t give up and you will achieve the result you dream of. 

How to increase running cadence

As I mentioned earlier, for beginners, increasing cadence running is not easy. So, you may ask how to increase running cadence. There are a few ways to do it effectively. 

  • Taking a shorter step – by gradually increasing the number of steps per minute. You can start by trying to take as many steps as possible in a few meters.
  • Strengthen muscles – calves, feet, abdomen, and back. Thanks to this you will maintain a straight posture. 
  • Slight forward lean while running.
  • Increasing cadence running with more active work of the hands – will help you run better and will support more frequent leg movement.
  • Increase range of motion in the hips and improve stabilization.
  • Land with your foot underneath you rather than in front on a straight leg, and because of that shorten your running step – higher running rhythm.

There are also other methods to thanks to which, you can increase cadence running

  • Running with a metronome 

If you have a watch for an athlete then it probably has a metronome function. This is a function that allows you to set an appropriate pace. If you don’t have a watch with such a function, then you can use an alternative – turn on a video of the selected frequency on Youtube. In this way, the pounding-out rhythm will make you get into it. 

  • Running on a treadmill 

How to increase running cadence? On the treadmill! The constant speed of the moving lane forces us to move at an even pace. In this case, you may not even notice that you are running at a higher cadence than usual, because you are focusing on the moving belt. This is a good and effective method. 

  • Run to Music (BPM songs)

If you love running to the sound of music then we have the perfect solution for you. All you have to do is check how many BPM (beats per minute) a particular song has. This will allow you to create a playlist with the right frequency and tempo adapted to your run. It will certainly be easier for you to maintain your running cadence this way. 

How to find the BPM of a song?

Very simply, just type “BPM Songs” into Google and you will see many websites that have the exact number of beats per minute for songs.

Page with BPM songs - help with running cadence
Next to the duration of the songs, you have the precise number of the BPM of the song. Source: Official SongBPM page. 

Now you know all the information you need about running cadence. I have introduced you to: what is cadence in running, what is a good cadence for running, and also how to increase it. Try it yourself and choose the technique that works for you. 

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