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What is Running Cadence & Why Is It Important?

Running cadence, or the number of steps per minute, is an important aspect of efficient and injury-free running. While many runners focus on their stride length, it's actually the cadence that plays a crucial role in improving running form, reducing stress on the body, and increasing running economy. In this blog post, we will discuss what running cadence is, how to determine your optimal cadence, and how to improve your running cadence.

What is Running Cadence?

Running cadence is simply the number of steps a runner takes in a minute. It is usually measured in steps per minute (spm) or strides per minute. The average running cadence for most runners is around 160-170 spm. However, elite runners tend to have a higher cadence, with some running at 180 spm or higher.

Why is Running Cadence Important?

A higher running cadence can lead to a more efficient and injury-free running form. When you increase your cadence, you reduce the amount of time your feet spend on the ground. This means you spend less time absorbing the impact of each foot strike, which can reduce the stress on your joints, muscles, and bones. Additionally, a higher cadence can help you maintain a more stable and upright posture, reduce overstriding, and prevent injuries such as shin splints, plantar fasciitis, and knee pain.

How to Determine Your Optimal Cadence

To determine your optimal running cadence, you can perform a simple test. Go for a run at your normal pace and count the number of steps you take in one minute. You can also use a running watch or an app that tracks cadence. Once you have your cadence, compare it to the average of 160-170 spm. If your cadence is lower, you may benefit from increasing your cadence.

How to Improve Your Running Cadence

Improving your running cadence can take time and practice. Here are some tips to help you increase your cadence:

  1. Use a metronome: Using a metronome can help you stay consistent with your cadence. Set the metronome to your target cadence and try to match your steps with the beat.

  2. Shorten your stride: Shortening your stride can help you increase your cadence. Focus on taking shorter and quicker steps, while keeping your feet close to the ground.

  3. Gradually increase your cadence: Don't try to increase your cadence all at once. Instead, gradually increase your cadence by 5-10 spm over several weeks or months.

  4. Use downhill running: Running downhill can naturally increase your cadence. However, be careful not to overdo it and risk injury.

In conclusion, running cadence is an important aspect of efficient and injury-free running. By increasing your cadence, you can reduce the stress on your body, improve your form, and become a more efficient runner. Remember to start gradually and be patient with yourself as you work towards improving your cadence. Happy running!


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