Running Cadence & it's importance

Running cadence - a term frequently heard in running community. To Understand the running cadence lets first talk about what is it.

Running cadence is defined as number of steps taken in a minute & it is represented in terms of SPM i.e steps per minute. Top marathoners typically run with a cadence above 90, whereas most beginners will run at 78–82. Ideal cadence should at least be 90 SPM in terms of running. Easiest way to find your running cadence is to count the number of steps taken by one leg in 15secs and then multiply it by 4 or if you can focus and count for whole 60 secs that will give more accurate results. Some people also follow counting the steps for one leg in 30 secs and multiply it by 2 to get the cadence. If you are counting it manually using this method then it is upto your comfort level whether you want to concentrate and count for 15 secs or 30 secs or 60 secs. Please note that counting for 60 secs will give more accurate results as other 2 we are manipulating via calculations which may have some minor ups and downs but that works too. There are also GPS devices in the market which calculates running cadence for you nowadays which is the most widely used method these days. Some devices show cadence as 90 and some will show the same reading as 180 where first case is the cadence for only single leg (90) and second case is the cadence for both legs (90+90=180).

Now why this cadence is so important? Cadence is one of the parameter which is responsible for running speed in conjunction with step length or stride length. Usually novice runners tend to increase step length with lower cadence which would make them cover longer distance but at the cost of much more shock to the joints inside the body. Consider your legs as wheels, Now wheel will not try to reach beyond its maximum range which acts as step length, but in turn wheel rolls very quickly if you have observed which is nothing but cadence i.e steps per minute. Running motion should always circular and hence achieving high cadence becomes much more important in first place rather than going to do the work for step length.

Higher running cadence can help you to prevent injuries, makes you efficient runner. You can also use your running cadence as a diagnostic tool. During a longer run, you’ll get tired and that will affect your running technique. Most often you won’t notice the changes yourself because your body will try to maintain the same pace automatically. Go for a run and keep an eye on your cadence. Does it change as you begin to tire? If you notice that your cadence begins to fall, it’s a sign that you cannot sustain your current running form long enough.

You can increase your cadence in running by following different methods-

1. Try to run on beats of metronome set to your desired cadence

2. Include faster leg turnover workouts in your running training

3. Focus on smaller steps rather than taking huge leaps while running slower

Your running cadence should change naturally as you run at a faster and slower pace. As you speed-up or slow-down, you will notice that your leg speed (cadence) increases along with your stride length. Monitoring running cadence for the right reasons is one powerful instrument in your journey to become a better runner. Use it wisely.

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