What is Cadence?
Cadence is the total number of steps per minute (SPM) while running or the number of times your feet hit the ground in one minute. While a cadence of around 180 SPM (or 90 from one foot) is often referred to as the optimal cadence, it can vary slightly between runners.
So why is cadence so important? Well, cadence is often the one thing that really pulls your running form together. Without it, you’re left feeling sticky, bouncy, and exerting way too much energy! Studies have found that the slower the cadence, the longer you are in the air and the harder you land. Slow turn over means more impact, which can lead to a higher rate of injury. An increased cadence reduces the impact forces of running. Having an appropriate cadence allows you to be more efficient, thus having more energy while running.
Find Your Cadence
- Take a stopwatch and run at an easy pace for 60 seconds. Count on ONE leg how many steps you take in that 60 seconds Multiply this by 2 for your SPM.
- What did you get? If you range from 170 - 180, that usually means that your cadence is appropriate. If you’re getting down into the 160’s or below, then you might be able to make some improvements.
Improve Your Cadence
Get a Metronome App
There are many metronome applications offered for free on all devices. Find your favorite and set the metronome to a number between 170-180 spm (or no more than 2 - 5 SPM more than your current cadence). Make sure that this pace is still moderately comfortable for you. Run with it for no more than a mile; then turn it off. Try to keep running at this cadence with the metronome off. Then turn it back on and check your cadence. Make adjustments and keep practicing. It will take some time to change your muscle memory and ultimately your cadence so that you won’t need the metronome anymore.
Attend a Good Form Running Clinic
Fleet Feet Sports Sacramento hosts monthly form clinics where you can
practice cadence as well as other aspects of good running form. RSVP here
! Don’t Forget
Remember to just relax and have fun while you’re out there! That's what running is all about. Improving your cadence will make you a more efficient runner but never ever let the HOW overshadow the WHY.