What is Cadence;
Quite simply cadence is how many steps you take per minute whilst you are running. Some runners who take really, really short fast steps would have a cadence of 170-190. Other runners with big, long, looping strides would have a cadence of 150-170.
There is no ideal cadence for everyone. It will depend on your body composition, your stride length, your speed, your fatigue levels and many other factors.
THERE IS NO IDEAL CADENCE even at a given point in time there is no magic number. It is ALL about your goals at that point in time. A runner who is trying to reduce knee issues might select a higher cadence than someone who has no niggles but just looking to run faster.
What can Cadence do?
Cadence is a mechanism to change the way the forces of running are distributed through our body. We know that someone with a lower cadence that overstrikes and lands with their toe pointed to the sky will incur more forces at the joint as well as a faster development of force through the joint.
Increasing cadence tends to use a more muscle or spring loading strategy. It takes the forces away from the joints and you will start to use the muscles in your foot and lower leg more.
A really simple rule that Christopher Johnson of the runners zone (Sof please link to the ‘runners zone’ website here) first taught iMove was;
“5 gives you 20” (Sof please use bigger font for this)
In other words increasing your cadence by 5% can take up to 20% of the joint forces away from your knee.
That has HUGE implications for any runner. Slightly shorter faster steps can potentially be the difference between running with or without pain.
If I take more steps isn’t it harder?
Research shows us that if you increase your cadence by 5% it won’t come at any extra metabolic cost. If you go beyond this you may start to use more 02 on your run and thus feel like you’re lagging a bit.
We usually only change cadence by 2.5-5% and this often has our runners saying, “it feels easier” or “I feel lighter”.
Some people may want to go beyond 5% to deliberately make it harder on their cardiovascular system and use it as a training tool. AGAIN, THERE IS NO IDEAL CADENCE, it just depends on your goals.
Definitely, helps knees and hips and may even help Achilles tendon issues;
Over the course of a long run: more frequent steps with less force IS BETTER THAN less steps with larger forces.
Just think of your Achilles as a spring. If we strengthen and stiffen that spring up we get really nice short, sharp propulsions. If the spring is sloppy you get, long, slow inefficient propulsions.
Cadence will stiffen up the spring and make it more efficient.
How should I go about it?
There will be no harm in trying a 500m patch on your next run with shorter, faster steps and see what you feel. Often using the cues, “shorter, faster” or “quite steps” will increase your cadence and have you feeling lighter.
Get a run assessment: In a run assessment, we can tell you your current cadence, vertical oscillation (how much you’re bouncing), ground reaction force (how hard you’re hitting the ground) and much more.
We then trial small changes in cadence and combine the hard numbers with how you feel. At this point, there are several ways to implement a new cadence such as Spotify, RunCadence App, Metronome or just external cueing such as “run quieter”