Cadence?

Sorting through the bollocks

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22/04/2013 at 18:28

Hi,

 

I'm fairly new to running, although I've been running trails for a few months covering usually 6 - 10 miles on weekend run. 

I've got myself a GPS running watch with HRM which has been great but recently picked up a footpod as I've been sneaking in some treadmill sessions at work during my lunch break.

I've been doing a fair bit of reading on running recently and have come across the whole cadence thing of 180 steps per minute. After a couple of footpod treadmill runs I saw that my cadence was way below this at about 150. I was really surprised that this remained pretty constant no matter how fast I set the treadmill.

Today I went for a run on the treadmill with the sole intention of upping my cadence and ran 45 mins with my cadence up to still short of the magic 180 mark at 170 steps per minute.

It felt like I was taking tiny baby steps although I did notice I was forefoot striking even more than before. I didn't think that it seemed like any less effort than before, even it might have felt a little harder.

Is this really worth perservering with or should I just run how it feels comfortable to me? I was having to concentrate on keeping the higher cadence up. As a noob to running I'm still trying to work out what's bollocks and what's good advice.

Cheers

22/04/2013 at 18:44

Like you, I recently bought a footpod and found my cadence about 160. 

I'm sure the 180 thing is an 'optimal' figure. I guess you could increase spm by either increasing leg speed while keeping the same stride length, or taking baby steps - if that makes sense.

 

22/04/2013 at 19:20

I think the high cadence, shorter steps is supposed to be more efficient and ultimately faster. I am currently reading 'The Art of running faster' and it advocates high cadence, short stride, and I think it is also less damaging to the lower limbs, reduces the impact on the knees, but can be harsh on the calves. I am working on making the switch, and have to say that I find it faster overall than the old loping heel striking that I used to do

M...eldy    pirate
22/04/2013 at 19:28

Mathschick is right ... its something I have looked into and started to change recently, any change should be graudal and not drastic,

If you have a low cadence there is every chance you are putting extra stress through achilles and heels and poss your knees

If you are making the change then start by incorporating some calf strengthening exercises into your routine to make the transition easier

22/04/2013 at 19:33

I think you're best off running what feels most comfortable. As a noob, you're probably not the most efficient runner, but as you get fitter you will become more efficient as your muscles become more running-shaped. I think the "magical" figure of 180 comes from observations of elite runners; that's not to say that many non-elite runners don't have high cadence, but there's no point in trying to force yourself to run like an elite runner if you haven't got an elite runner's legs! For the record, I've occasionally made a note of my cadence and I would say that it has increased from mid 160s a few years ago to about mid 170s, just from running more.

M...eldy    pirate
22/04/2013 at 19:35

Phil would you not say that for a noob the aim for a higher cadence may well lead to less injuries from overstriding at a lower cadence?

22/04/2013 at 19:47

Yeah, maybe. I don't know enough about biomechanics to say whether a low cadence goes hand-in-hand with overstriding, I was really cautioning against consciously aiming for a certain figure hoping it'll make you a more efficient runner.  I certainly don't think there's any harm in thinking about cadence and concentrating on good, tidy form.  Actually, what would I know?  I'm still a massive heel striker!

M...eldy    pirate
22/04/2013 at 19:56

Well yes ... thats what I am trying to improve upon, too many injuries and nothing to lose !

22/04/2013 at 20:35
My cadence is 182 to 190 depending on pace (according to garmin footpod) - not intentional. I have read the Art of Running, so I thought "get in, I'm doing something right", alas I am also a massive heel striker, pronate in the most supportive of shoes etc. I tried putting some of Julian Goaters advice into practice but always seem to revert back to normal form. Need more discipline.

One thing I would say is that as a noob last year, with a high cadence, I still picked up lots of injuries. There is a lot of change going on 'under the bonnet' in the first few months as muscles and tendons adapt to running. It's good to be thinking about cadence etc and trying things out. I don't get too hung up about every aspect of good running form - I'm going with the 'if it feels natural, carry on' approach.
22/04/2013 at 20:49

I think you're right, I'm over thinking things most likely. I just didn't want to fall into bad habits as soon as I've started as it were.

23/04/2013 at 08:26
PhilPub wrote (see)

I think you're best off running what feels most comfortable. As a noob, you're probably not the most efficient runner, but as you get fitter you will become more efficient as your muscles become more running-shaped. 

I agree. Aches, pains and the odd discomfort are all part and parcel of strengthening and conditioning the "running" muscles and in mant ways should be embraced. You have enough to contend with as a newbie without trying to refine your running technique to a point of perfection.

By all means take on board what is the optimum but don't rip up your running style if this isn't you. Remember Michael Johnson had a style that defied all common wisdom and he seemed to do ok. My gait, posture and cadence have all altered significantly over the years but I have never knowingly made adjustments it has come about via conditioning, strength and natural efficiencies.

The analogy I would use is that my golf swing is an ugly, jerky 3/4 swing but I can move the ball miles with control after a series of (very expensive) golf lessons to "refine" my technique I was much, much worse off, even the pro said I was better off leaving it as it was. It is just what works for me.

The one thing you didn't mention is if you went any faster? I'm assuming you didn't so basically you made yourself uncomfortable and gave yourself a new worry to preoccupy you just to fulfil someone's criteria for perfection.

It's not bollocks per se but it is not an issue for you right now either.

 

23/04/2013 at 08:28

Another cocked up post. Cheers RW. 

23/04/2013 at 09:29

Everyone is different, if you're comfortable and injury free at 150 or 160 why change?

 

But on the other hand I've been making a conscious effort to force myself up to 180 (no footpod nonsense, just a stopwatch and counting every other footfall) and my running has consistantly become easier, faster and more 'fluid' than my 140-ish heel striking 'beat the road into submission' days.

 

Horses for courses.

23/04/2013 at 12:30

Whenever I do concentrate on increasing my cadence, I definitely notice that I can run faster with less percieved effort but it is hard on the calves. I've never actually measured my cadence though and didn't know about the 180 figure. I might measure it now and see where I am.

Basically, when I concentrate and make an effort, it's OK (I think) but when I drift off mentally, I revert back to a longer stride.

As Phil says though, there's no point trying to get your technique as good as an elite runner right from the off as I'm never going to be an elite runner and my overall fitness and stamina is way more pressing a concern than cadence right now!

23/04/2013 at 12:41

As another noob, this is an appropriately timed thread for me, as around the time the OP was raising his original query I was actually doing a test of my own during an easy paced run.

I've become aware over the last week or two that as my mileage has increased recently, so my running form is beginning to change of its own accord. I wasn't really a heel striker anyway, but I've noticed that I'm getting up towards my toes more than I was previously and, particularly at pace, feel like I'm beginning to flow more smoothly - well, feeling a little less laboured would probably be more accurate at this stage!

This got me thinking about cadence, and taking a couple of manual measurements last night, I'd say I'm somewhere in the mid-160s at this stage. I did try to pick this up at one stage, but as it didn't feel right at all, I was going to ask the question myself whether it was something that is worth working on.

Reading the above, I'll just continue to let things develop naturally of their own accord I think, though I do have one question.

Is the idea that cadence should be uniform no matter what pace you are running at and the increased speed comes from an increased force exerted / stride length? I.E. An easy-paced run would (ideally) share the same cadence as that at race-paces, or is it likely to vary by type of run / race distance?

24/04/2013 at 16:23

There's no point being obsessive about technique because even the 'experts' disagree on it.  I think that, if you notice a problem (i.e., you are developing an injury or excessive discomfort) then you might think about different elements of your stride/cadence/form, etc., but if it's not broke, don't fix it.

24/04/2013 at 17:47

After an injury my physio let me run again and said try 120 cadence to start with and see how it feels. Thats what I tried and for me its comfortable, any faster and my ankles and shins hurt. According to the fizz anythng between 120-180 is OK, there are many variables due to everyone being unique.

29/04/2013 at 08:18

The 180 thing is a bit of a misquote: the original is from Daniels running formula book and was that elites have a cadence of at least 180. Other researchers and practitioners since say this might not be right for mere mortals but that an effort to increase your frequency by 5 to 10% may well correct the common tendency to overstride and thus may help protect from injuries caused by overstriding. See eg http://sciencebasedrunning.com/2011/07/the-basics-cadence/

29/04/2013 at 10:24

I'm about 10 pages into the Goats book and reading about cadence for the first time.

Is a footpod the only way of properly measuring?

29/04/2013 at 11:01

 

Big_Bad_Bob wrote (see)

Is the idea that cadence should be uniform no matter what pace you are running at and the increased speed comes from an increased force exerted / stride length? I.E. An easy-paced run would (ideally) share the same cadence as that at race-paces, or is it likely to vary by type of run / race distance?

This might be a good time to ask Duck to dig out the video of us running a 1,500m race last year, but I suspect my cadence increases for higher speeds.  Here's a comment on an article linked to SteveC's link above:

"Daniel’s 180 frequency rule is based on elite runners running relatively fast paces. I think that much of the magic of this number is strongly pace driven.  If you look at Pavel Komi’s work you will see that sprinters exceed 240 steps/minute.

"I have filmed a number of elite and sub-elite runners (e.g. sub 2:33 marathon females) and do stride rate counts.

"For example, one elite female runner tested at the following paces and cadences:

"3:30 min/km pace = 190 steps, 4:00 min/km pace = 182 steps 5:00 min/km pace = 172 steps 6:00 min/km pace = 168 steps

"The vast majority of runners (more than 80% if you look at average race times for the Goodlife Marathon 5 km results) don’t run 5 min/km.

"I think pace is a big factor and shoe horning all your recreational runners into 180 magic may not be wise."

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