Running Cadence

Whats cadence? What should running cadence be?
This was a question I got from an elite runner I was working with who had developed injuries and has not been able to train for over a year.  It blew my mind that this guy’s coach would put these young men through so much stress without even discussing running cadence with them

From the observation of elite endurance runners, physical therapists and coaches deduced that cadence should be 160-180 steps per minute.  Usain bolt sprints at ~250 steps/minute cadence.  Running speed, cadence and stride length have a mathematical relationship

Speed (in meters/second)= cadence (steps/second) X step length (in Meters/step.)

 So the faster you are running you will need to have a longer step length, a higher cadence or both.  I think that simply saying a higher cadence is better is over simplifying, but it tends to help as a higher cadence means not spending as much time on the ground which will can minimize your current pains. 

This is a complex problem and you may just be changing compensations delaying the onset of pain or creating a new problem. I spent years working on my stride and cadence was a variable i would play with either running with a metronome or counting right footstrikes during a minute to see what my current cadence was.  Focusing on these variables from running without changing the nature of my body gave me a specific compensation pattern that worked alright for a few years, but brought some different problems.

With that said I think there is benefit to at least counting your cadence and see what it feels like to run at different cadences.

As I have mentioned in other posts, every body is different, everyone’s leverage is different, everyone’s endurance and power output is different, so there are no hard fast rules, and things change as one of these variables change.  If you don’t adapt you will likely get stuck.  If you feel like you are stuck with some chronic aches and pains, take the first step HERE by requesting to talk to our PT on the phone.

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