Home Fitness Training How to increase running cadence (and avoid injury)

How to increase running cadence (and avoid injury)

14 min read

Running cadence isn’t a brand new subject. Many of us have experimented with modifications in steps per minute. But the straightforward matter of what number of steps you absorb a minute has a sophisticated relationship with training and efficiency. Opinion on optimum cadence swings between increased is best” to “no matter feels snug.

So which is it? In this text, uncover how running cadence and efficiency are related and the way to successfully modify your personal step fee.


It was Jack Daniels (elite running coach – not the opposite one) who famously noticed Olympic runners with cadences above 180 steps per minute (spm). Ever since, cadence has been positively related to efficiency. “The more times your feet hit the ground, the faster you will run.”

Young woman runs outside on a street to work on her running cadence

You’ve in all probability heard of the magic 180 because the quantity to purpose at. Unsurprisingly, Coach Daniel’s attention-grabbing commentary has been taken out of context and promoted as a one-size-fits-all quick-fix. Wouldn’t it’s nice if we might break our private document simply by rising our cadence to 180 steps per minute? Not so quick. Let’s take a better take a look at the connection between running cadence and running efficiency.

Avoid these frequent cadence errors:

1. Increasing your running cadence too shortly
It takes time to your body to adapt to a brand new cadence. Although most of us would profit from a better running cadence, focusing on a step fee that doesn’t match your training stage or anatomy is probably going to increase your threat of damage and trigger a brief lower in running economic system.[1]

2. Ignoring your running cadence
Most runners naturally choose a cadence that’s decrease than the optimum. Lower cadences imply longer strides. Longer strides imply increased heel-strike impression forces and an elevated threat of damage.[2] [3] With correct adaptation nonetheless, rising cadence towards the optimum can enhance each running economic system and injury-related floor response forces. [4] [5]


Cadence is set by quite a lot of components together with height and leg size. This is sensible after all. Taller runners have longer strides and due to this fact decrease cadences. But figuring out this isn’t notably useful since we are able to’t change our height or leg size.

Training historical past, acute fatigue and even predominant muscle fiber sort have additionally been prompt as components affecting running cadence. There is a few proof to present that quick twitch muscle fibers operate optimally at a better cadence, although it’s unclear how this impacts efficiency.[6] [7]

But there may be one essential and obviously apparent issue that till lately hasn’t obtained the attention it deserves. No, it’s not weight loss plan, fitness or motivation.

It’s running tempo. Rather anticlimactically, it seems that the important thing determinant of running cadence is the tempo we run at.

A latest research revealed within the Journal of Applied Physiology demonstrated precisely this. The researchers measured cadence for 25 elite ultramarathoners throughout a 100 km race. As anticipated, the athletes clustered round a mean 182 spm, apparently supporting the notion that 180 is the holy grail of cadence.

Two men running outside to improve their running cadence

However, the identical research additionally demonstrated a large variation in particular person step fee, from as few as 155 to an unimaginable 203 steps per minute! Furthermore, cadence was not associated to fatigue, weight, intercourse, age or training historical past of the athletes. Besides height – which we have now no management over – the one issue associated to cadence was running pace.  As runners sped up, cadence elevated. As they slowed, cadence decreased.[8] In different phrases, runners aren’t quick as a result of they take 180 steps per minute. They take 180 steps per minute as a result of they’re running quick.

The level is, you may’t choose one magic cadence and blindly run at it. Your cadence is restricted to your anatomy and tempo, whether or not you might be running half marathons or half hours.

To put it into perspective, let’s evaluate the cadence of elite athletes running at completely different speeds. At 5:20 per mile tempo (3:20 per km), the runners took roughly 175 steps per minute. At 3:50 per mile tempo (2:23 per km) this elevated to over 200 spm.[9] According to the analysis, for each pace increase of 1 meter per second, a runner will take 6 additional steps per minute.

If you’ve ever tried running at this tempo, you understand how fast it’s. And greater than doubtless, your cadence was someplace round 180. The takeaway? Pace dictates cadence, not the opposite method spherical.

How do I measure my cadence?

Low tech: Count each proper foot strike for 30 seconds and multiply by 4

Pros: Simple approach for one-off measurement
Cons: Distracts you out of your running and never probably the most correct

High tech: Quite a lot of foot pods and watches can be found with correct cadence sensors. The adidas Running app additionally shows cadence. (iOS solely)

Pros: Accurate, steady measurement for evaluation anytime
Cons: Wearable tech comes at a value

Group of people is running outside on a street


Forcing a excessive cadence is a questionable technique for bettering efficiency, and as we’ve seen, cadence is essentially decided by how briskly we run. Having stated that, most of us naturally choose a cadence decrease than the optimum and would profit from retraining to a better step fee.

Here are our tips for rising cadence safely and successfully:


Log your cadence for every tempo you run at. Remember that when racing, you might be doubtless to run quicker than standard with a better step fee. Over time you’ll learn the way your cadence is related to how briskly you run.


Cadence is set by pace. As your fitness improves it is possible for you to to preserve a quicker tempo with a better cadence. If you may run a 5 minute mile (1.6 km in 5 minutes), your cadence will nearly actually be above 170 spm.


Gradual changes of roughly 5 steps per minute will give your body time to adapt with out inflicting damage or impacting efficiency. Imagine training your self to throw together with your off hand – not a fast repair! The purpose is to increase your cadence for a given tempo, not hit 180 on each run.


Recent analysis has demonstrated that coronary heart fee can be utilized to determine optimum cadence. [10] Record your HR for a cushty (under threshold) tempo at numerous step charges between 150 and 200. Whichever step fee yields the bottom HR is probably the most environment friendly! Allow a few minutes to your HR to stabilize at every new cadence.


So there it’s. Cadence isn’t one thing you may manipulate for immediate outcomes. But as your fitness improves and your tempo quickens, it is best to see a pure increase in step fee.

Given that the majority runners, no matter potential stage, choose a cadence decrease than optimum, rising cadence for any given tempo is a good suggestion. Adjust your cadence step by step and reap the benefits of wearable know-how for correct step fee evaluation.

Over time, you’ll discover the optimum cadence to your chosen exercise and benefit from the rewards of improved running economic system and decrease impression pressure. Just one more reason to go for a run.



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