Have you ever wished that you could run faster, further, or with fewer injuries? Believe me, you’re not alone.
In fact, several new techniques have sprung up over the last few years to address exactly this concern. Take, for example, the rise in popularity of barefoot running. Or, for that matter, ChiRunning. And let’s not forget the resurgence in popularity of the pose technique.
All of these running techniques share one thing in common: an emphasis on a more natural running form that allows you to use your energy more effectively. It all starts with correcting your stride.
Is there a problem here, coach?
Most runners over-stride. Truthfully, you’re probably among them. Don’t feel bad. Most days, so am I.
Pay close attention the next time you’re out running. Which part of your foot hits the ground first? Your heel?
If that describes you, congratulations, you’re an over-strider.
What’s wrong with that?
When you land with your heel first, you put more pressure on your bones and joints. Moreover, striking heel first dissipates much of your forward momentum. And, since are also spending more time in contact with the ground, you also use more energy overcoming the force of friction.
What’s a lifelong over-strider to do? Your journey down the path of enlightenment starts with cadence training.
What the heck is cadence training anyway?
In the context of running, cadence refers to the rate at which your feet hit the ground.
Experience suggests that most runners, untrained, have a natural cadence of around 80 steps per minute on a side. That is, around 160 steps per minute combined.
In contrast, many experts such as Dr. Jack Daniels posit that observation of elite runners suggests that 180 steps per minute (90 steps per minute on a side) is a more optimal cadence.
Cadence training, then, is a set of exercises designed to help you eke out that extra 20 steps per minute. We’ll talk more about the specifics on Wednesday. For now, suffice it to say that what we’re aiming for is a form that leaves you lighter on your feet with a higher rate of turnover.
It’s also worth noting that that 180 steps per minute applies regardless of your actual running speed.
What to expect
At first, this will probably feel a bit awkward. You may feel, especially at lower speeds, that you look a bit like the roadrunner or Dash, from The Incredibles – your legs will be spinning so rapidly.
Over time, that particular awkwardness will pass.
We will also be surprised at how difficult it is to actually achieve this turnover. As with any other skill, with repeated practice and consistent effort, this will become like second nature – so much so that you will find yourself having difficulty returning to your previous cadence.
So, if you’re ready to take the next steps, tune back in on Wednesday when I’ll start talking about specific exercises that will take you from where you are now to where you need to be.
Have you tried cadence training before? Is it a regular part of your routine? Leave me a comment and let me know.