Running cadence – does it matter?

Running cadence is how often your feet touch the ground during the running. According to the Jack Daniels’ study most of elite athlete takes over 180 step per minute (include both legs), some takes even over 200 steps. So, how many step are recommended to non-elite runners? Many studies and coaches says 180 steps, and I agree with this.

Why? The faster the speed more steps are needed for smooth and economical running. The less step are taken the more time is spent in the air, while landing to the ground is harder. Your lower body ligaments, joints, bones and muscles receive over three times your body weight each landing. Every time your foot land on the ground your muscles and tendons stretch to absorb energy from impact. Once they return the normal length they release that energy back to the ground. It’s kind like a ball, which are dropped to the ground, once it’s hit the ground it flatten slightly to collect ”free energy” from ground, which after it’s bounce back to air.

There also found many other benefits from higher cadence. For example higher cadence reduce over-striding, it’s also lower oxygen cost and heart rate during the running. Higher cadence also often change foot stride for mid-and rear- foot landing. So if you have been struggling with foot stride technique or maybe have suffering shin splits, try to higher cadence.

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Oxygen cost and heart rate in different  cadence. PSF (preferred stride frequency) is around 80 steps per minute (one leg). Hamill, J., T. R. Derrick, and K. G. Holt. ”Shock attenuation and stride frequency during running.” Human Movement Science 14.1 (1995): 45-60

Best way to find out your cadence is run quite flat surface in one minute and count how many step are you taking during this time. Do not sprint or fix anything so the results are more reliable. Count only one leg steps and multiply that by two, if you get 180 steps, good job! If you get less than 180 try start increase that. It might be difficult first, but you might feel that you have to run faster to reach 180, but pay attention your stride length, are you bound far ahead.

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