Running Tips: Cadence

The first time I'd ever really heard the term cadence in endurance sports was when I started cycling over 2 years ago. I'm not what you'd call a regular cyclist now, but learning what it means to cycle with good cadence (made popular by a guy named Lance Armstrong) has greatly helped me transition better cadence into my running. For most people it's easy to associate cadence (revolutions per minute or RPM) with cycling. For me, associating cadence with running can seem sort of out place, however we'll see it can be just as relevant.

Running with a high cadence basically means running with a higher rate of RPMs, or more steps per minute or a full stride. The optimal cadence to shoot for is 180 per minute or 3 strides per second. Seem like a lot at first? It did to me. Much of this is making its way to the mainstream due to what is called "Good Form Running" or GFR (guess endurance athletes are big on acronyms). Check out the GFR website.

There's a great vid of GFR that I'll post below. It infuses some great, simple points to help improve cadence such as: arms @ a 90 degree angle, subtle forward lean at the ankles + a mid-foot strike (there's debate with all of these so if you have a comment on GFR, please leave it below. I'd love to hear some thoughts.). One of the best reasons to improve cadence (whether you completely believe in the GFR method or not, we can all agree that improving cadence is a good thing): reducing injuries. In short, you are in the air for a shorter length of time, shortening the force of impact. Though the impact frequency increases, the likelihood that your knees will be bent and your center of gravity will be over your impact is greater with a higher cadence than without. And what does that mean? Less injuries.

Of course running with a higher cadence also means running more efficiently and that means running longer. Our bodies will always need that "rest period" (I think my body is telling me this right now as I'm about to lace up), but keeping this tip in the back of our minds will hopefully keep us running longer.

Some articles for debate:

Mid-foot Strike vs. Heel Strike - What do you think?

Also pick up the newest Running Times. It has a great article on form in there (as you can see I'm a running form nerd). It's well worth the read with a pictorial breakdown of running form and how to improve it by some great specialists.

Happy running!


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