Cadence, also known as gait or turnover, is a key factor in running speed that is often overlooked by many runners. So what exactly is cadence all about?
“Cadence in sports involving running is the total number of ‘revolutions per minute’ (RPM), or number of full cycles taken within a minute, by the pair of feet, and is used as a measure of athletic performance. Elite long-distance runners often have a cadence of 90–95, a cadence that does not vary much with speed.” – Wikipedia
The idea is pretty simple: take shorter, quicker steps and your speed will improve. Not only is it simple to understand and implement, but running with a faster cadence also achieves the following:
- Improved speed
- Less impact and fewer injuries
- Improved momentum due to more time in the air
When first getting interested in cadence I read that maintaining a minimum cadence of 90 RPMs is a good goal. So I started running with a 90 BPM (beats per minute) MP3 from this site. You can match either your feet landing or elbow swing to the beat. Basically I would ensure that every other elbow swing was all the way back on the “click”. If you want to match up with every elbow swing, download the 180 BMP MP3. It can get pretty annoying listening to a metronome through earphones (especially on long runs) so I eventually switched over to the Seiko DM50 Compact Metronome.
That’s really all there is to it. Download an MP3 or buy a metronome and get out there! After a weeks of running to that beat, it will become second nature and you will be a faster runner!
As a side note: since I started wearing Vibram Five Fingers, I was really curious what my difference in cadence is between those and my Nike Vomeros. So I strapped my Garmin Foot Pod onto my Vibrams and went for a 4 mile run. Wow! I had an average cadence of 99, as opposed to ~90 with my Nikes. As you can see, my pace is dramatically improved due to the faster cadence. This most likely can be attributed to the lightness of the Vibrams as well as the shorter strides they force you to take.
To sum it all up… increasing your running cadence is a pretty straight forward to improve your overall pace. I’d to hear every one’s opinion on this