Why cadence is so important for running

May 24, 2023 3 min read

Nohrd sprintbok cadence drills

Improving cadence is vital for increasing your running speed

Cadence is the number of steps you take per minute while running. A good cadence for most runners is between 160 and 180 steps per minute. A higher cadence can help you run more efficiently and reduce your risk of injury.

There are a few reasons why a higher cadence is beneficial. First, it helps to keep your feet from landing in front of your body, which can cause excessive stress on your knees and hips. Second, it helps to improve your running economy, which is the amount of energy you use to run a given distance. Third, it can help you run more smoothly and avoid jarring your body.

If you're not sure what your cadence is, you can use a metronome or a running app to track it. Once you know what your current cadence is, you can start to work on increasing it. There are a few things you can do with your technique to improve your cadence:

  • Focus on taking shorter, quicker steps.
  • Keep your arms pumping in a smooth, rhythmic motion.
  • Stand up straight and keep your shoulders relaxed.
  • Practice running on a treadmill or track, where you can easily measure your cadence, with a metronome set to 160-180 beats per minute

It may take some time to get used to running with a higher cadence, but it's worth the effort. A higher cadence can help you run more efficiently, reduce your risk of injury, and improve your overall running performance.

    With practice, you can improve your running cadence and reap the benefits of a more efficient, injury-free running form.


    Maximise your cadence and stride length

    If you’re looking for some gains in speed then here’s how to maximise your cadence and stride length:

    1) Use a Plyometric Platform

    Plyometric exercises, such as jumps, bounds, and hops, are designed to teach you how to exert more force with less time on the ground. This finally results in a quicker turnover when running. Once or twice a week, experiment with adding a modest amount of plyometric exercise after an easy run. If you new to this, read our plyometrics & tutorials

    2) Consider Hanging up your Heavy Shoes

    Your cadence can be greatly improved by removing a small amount of weight from your shoes since, over the course of several kilometres, you are essentially lifting less weight. You might be able to get away with wearing slightly lighter running shoes if your biomechanics are good.

    The trade-off between cushioning and lighter shoes should be considered, though. You should consider whether taking on a possible higher risk of injury is a risk you are willing to take because, generally speaking, the lighter the shoe, the less support and cushioning it provides.



    3) Increasing Hip Flexor Extension - 

    You should lengthen your stride if you want to run quicker. However, most runners typically do this by overextending their front leg and braking as a result of heel striking.

    Extending at the hip with your back leg is the biomechanically most effective approach to prolong your stride. As a result of spending too much time sitting at a desk, the majority of us have shortened hip flexors, which makes it difficult to perform this exercise.

    By routinely stretching your hip flexors while kneeling, you can practise getting stronger hip extension. Kneel on one knee while putting the other leg's foot flat on the ground and bending the knee at the hip.

    Keeping your body upright, draw your belly button in towards your spine and gently push the hip of the kneeling leg forward. You should feel a strong stretch at the front of your hip.


    Zwift speedwork


    4) Running on a Treadmill,

    By using certain apps such as Zwift, a Treadmill allows you a wet weather option or a chance to work on technique as well as your technical performance. If Zwift is new to you then read our " HOW TO CHOOSE A TREADMILL THAT WORKS WITH ZWIFT"  or we would be delighted to help decipher what treadmill option suits your home or commercial set up and any queries you have around an app like Zwift and suitability to your training.

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