What’s Your Running Cadence?

Are you just starting to run? Or, are you a seasoned runner? Do you prefer short distances or racking up the km’s? Regardless of these questions you should know about your cadence.

A cadence is the number of times your foot strikes the ground during a given amount of time. Your optimal cadence will depend on your height, weight, leg and stride length. Generally, your cadence should fall between 160-180 steps per minute.

You can determine your cadence on your next run! Pick either your right or left foot and count how many times that foot strikes the ground in a minute, then multiply it by two. If you are below the 160 steps per minute you want to focus on increasing your cadence. By improving your cadence, you will decrease the amount of force that it transfers through your body in each step. Furthermore, with a higher cadence you are less likely to over-stride and heel strike, which can also increase the amount of force put through your body. Having a lower cadence can also affect your speed and efficiency. Forward momentum can only be created when our foot is on the ground, therefore increasing the cycle of your feet on/off the ground will help you become more efficient.

If your cadence is low, how do you improve it?

  1. Music selection: There are certain songs that have a tempo of 160-180 beats per minute. Focusing on striking the ground to the beats of the song can help speed up your cadence.
  2. Visualize: Visualization, or guided imagery, refers to mentally rehearsing an activity. Many people, including athletes, use visualization to imitate a desired outcome in a race or training session. Through this process you can train the mind and body to perform the skill you are imagining.
  3. Treadmill running: Even though it may not be your favorite place to run, decreasing some of the outdoor distraction by running on the treadmill can help you transition to a faster cadence. It would be beneficial to do some treadmill work while you are getting used to the new cadence, then transition to outdoor running.

To avoid injury while you are adapting your cadence, try to increase your cadence by only 2-5 steps per minute. Changes to your running technique, volume, distance, etc. should always be gradual.