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Cadence Training (Read 1481 times)

Scout7


CPT Curmudgeon

    I'm curious to see if anyone here has ever done specific training to up their running cadence. The elite runners have a cadence of around 180 footstrikes per minute, and I have seen advice that to increase your speed / efficiency, or decrease chance of injury, you should try to run at that pace. Personally, I don't even know what my running cadence is, and I have never really paid any sort of attention to it. I have done drills that would increase it (striders are recommended by Pfitzinger), but I never really bothered to find out how effective in terms of cadence they were. I've also read from people on other boards that seem to try to just run at a higher cadence while doing their usual runs. To me, however, that seems odd. I'm told that it's all about turnover rate, and not about speed, that your cadence is independent of speed. Ok, I understand why that is, but it's all kind of silly to me, and sort of sounds like snake oil. I believe in getting in miles. This idea of focusing on cadence seems strange. So, any thoughts or experiences?
      I counted steps once on a treadmill because I was bored and it turns out I have an approximate cadence of 176 footstrikes per minute. I tried to up it to 180 and somehow tripped on the treadmill and fell off the back. That was the end of that. People seem to relate running cadence to cycling cadence a lot, which I think generally makes sense - with cycling you can vary your gear ratios (unless you're on a fixie/singlespeed) to compensate for the terrain and conditions - you want to keep a smooth pedal stroke and spin, not mash. I guess you can liken stride length to that, but keeping a steady 180-ish footstrikes a minute on a steep hill (up or down) sounds really hard to me. I can see how taking giant strides would impact your leg muscles more. I'm also curious as to how your physical makeup relates to cadence - won't the 6'4" guy taking 180 steps/minute go way faster and farther than 5'1" me unless I'm taking gigantanormous strides?
        I am a solid believer in stride rate drills. While distance is very dependent on "getting in miles" (i.e., building endurance), improving your running form will allow you to run faster (and safer) while using the same effort. I'm not qualified to give a full explanation, but the published evidence is out there (both Pfitzinger and Daniels have written on the subject, if I recall correctly). Besides, whats seems strange about stride rate being an important component of running efficiency? Surely its not a coincidence that virtually every elite runner happens to run at the same stride rate. And if you trust Pfitz to help you improve your "lactate threshold" and your "v dot", why would you think he's wrong about stride rate? Probably the best way to check your stride rate is to run with a cadence mp3 track. Your can download a 180bpm drum track or a 90 bpm drum track, and compare your stride rates (counting every foot fall, or every other foot fall, respectively). I found that one of the best ways to work on my stride rate over time was using mp3 tracks from Podrunner (http://www.djsteveboy.com/mixes.html). Although I did not always use 180 bpm tracks, the consistency of the beats in any of Podrunner's faster tracks helps you focus on maintaining consistency in your stride rate.
        How To Run a Marathon: Step 1 - start running. There is no Step 2.
          I often but not always will run with music from DJSteveboy that's set at specific cadences. I have to use a different cadence depending on how fast and how hard I want to run. Knowing I'm a back-o-the-packer, I don't worry about trying to run at 180 - my stride would have to be 4 inches long in order to not exhaust myself at that cadence, LOL! But I'm comfortable between 145 and 160, depending on how fast I'm going. An "easy" run for me works best with about 150 BPM. I ran my last 10K at 160 and kicked some serious butt! (Okay, for me, anyway!) Stride length can easily be varied while keeping cadence the same, so 150 BPM for me can be a 16 minute mile or a 12 minute mile, either way, just depending on how the legs are doing.

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          Scout7


          CPT Curmudgeon

            I am a solid believer in stride rate drills. While distance is very dependent on "getting in miles" (i.e., building endurance), improving your running form will allow you to run faster (and safer) while using the same effort. I'm not qualified to give a full explanation, but the published evidence is out there (both Pfitzinger and Daniels have written on the subject, if I recall correctly). Besides, whats seems strange about stride rate being an important component of running efficiency? Surely its not a coincidence that virtually every elite runner happens to run at the same stride rate. And if you trust Pfitz to help you improve your "lactate threshold" and your "v dot", why would you think he's wrong about stride rate?
            Form is not cadence. They may be related, but they are not the same. I have done form drills, I have done striders. Improvement of your overall form will of course make you more efficient, allowing you to maintain speed over a greater period of time. But you cadence is not QUITE the same thing. Besides that, those are specific workouts designed with that specific purpose. Additionally, I don't think that Pfitzinger et al. specifically tell you to run with a metronome to work on cadence during your regular runs (I could be wrong, though, feel free to correct if I am). I know the math involved, the physics. I don't think the science behind it is voodoo, just the methodologies that some people are using. Additionally, people are missing the other gains that could be made, mostly be increasing stride length along with it. The best way, it seems, to do both is to work in specific sessions designed for this. But people seem so focused on doing nothing but upping cadence to 180. Even if they end up finding that it causes injury, or puts a hit on their personal efficiency.
            Mile Collector


            Abs of Flabs

              A few years back, when I first started training in earnest for my first marathon, I would run on the treadmill during the winter. The longest I ran on it was 10 miles. Toward the end of these runs on the treadmill, I noticed my cadence increased. I'm not sure what it was before, but it's around 180-186 right now (when I get bored on the run, I would count my steps). As I got tired from the distance, I shortened my stride but had to increase the cadence to keep up with the treadmill. I knew nothing about this 180 steps per minute business. I just did it because it helped me conserve energy to get through my longest runs at that time. I think the idea of focusing on cadence has to do with running economy. With lower cadences, you are expending more energy driving your body upwards, which is wasted energy since it doesn't contribute directly to your forward motion. At higher cadences, you put more energy in moving your legs, which is not bad except you'll get tired much quicker. I guess "the experts" think 180 steps per minute is the ideal balance between the two. I don't think anyone should explicity train for it. Your body knows what feel right, and it's hard to deviate from it.
                I'm also curious as to how your physical makeup relates to cadence - won't the 6'4" guy taking 180 steps/minute go way faster and farther than 5'1" me unless I'm taking gigantanormous strides?
                Again, the science is somewhat beyond me, but the following page may give some insight -- http://mysite.verizon.net/jim2wr/id109.html. In summary, leg length (i.e., height) has a smaller kinetic impact on stride length than you might assume. In addition, any advantage that height might add to stride length is offset by the disadvantage of increased weight of the taller runner.
                How To Run a Marathon: Step 1 - start running. There is no Step 2.
                  Again, the science is somewhat beyond me, but the following pae may give some insight -- http://mysite.verizon.net/jim2wr/id109.html.
                  Awesome, thanks for that link. I think I need to work on some stride length action. Big grin
                  Scout7


                  CPT Curmudgeon

                    Again, the science is somewhat beyond me, but the following pae may give some insight -- http://mysite.verizon.net/jim2wr/id109.html. In summary, leg length (i.e., height) has a smaller kinetic impact on stride length than you might assume. In addition, any advantage that height might add to stride length is offset by the disadvantage of increased weight of the taller runner.
                    Heh. Also notice that in the example race, the winner had a slower cadence than the other two runners.
                      Form is not cadence. They may be related, but they are not the same. I have done form drills, I have done striders. Improvement of your overall form will of course make you more efficient, allowing you to maintain speed over a greater period of time. But you cadence is not QUITE the same thing.
                      I don't understand the point you are trying to make. Increasing your stride rate (if it is well below 180 bpm) allows the same runner to go faster at the same level of effort. Isn't that what you asked about?
                      Besides that, those are specific workouts designed with that specific purpose. Additionally, I don't think that Pfitzinger et al. specifically tell you to run with a metronome to work on cadence during your regular runs (I could be wrong, though, feel free to correct if I am). I know the math involved, the physics. I don't think the science behind it is voodoo, just the methodologies that some people are using.
                      No one says that 180 bpm (or 179, or 181) is perfect for everyone. Everyone is going to have an optimal stride rate for their physiology. However, what the research suggests is that the optimal stride rate is not going to vary significantly plus/minus from 180. So if you are +/- 10 strides per minute, you may well already be running at optimal form. But if you are running at 150 strides per minute, you can likely improve your speed (and decrease your risk of injury) by working to increase your stride rate. How you work on improving your stride rate is up to you. I and others have made some suggestions, but you are free to do whatever works for you.
                      Additionally, people are missing the other gains that could be made, mostly be increasing stride length along with it.
                      I strongly disagree with this comment. All published research I have seen counsels against trying to increase your stride length other than through the organic effects of increasing muscle strength and doing traditional speed drills. Going out with the goal of increasing your stride length is a recipe for serious injury, based on everything I've read.
                      How To Run a Marathon: Step 1 - start running. There is no Step 2.
                      Scout7


                      CPT Curmudgeon

                        I was looking to see if anyone specifically tried to hit a desired number or if they did some level of workout that has a specific goal of increasing stride rate. As for the idea of increasing stride length, I was not advocating specifically over-stepping. As you mentioned there are ways to do it, and those are the methods I was referring to. However, I see people who seem to want to run LSD at a stride rate that won't necessarily match up for that person. And that's what I'm curious about. I wanted to see if anyone has successfully managed to get faster / more efficient by doing cadence-specific training. I'm not trying to spark a distinct argument, more of a lively debate.
                          I was joking about the stride length action, btw... though I used to be a gymnast and I had to do split leaps across the floor. I do need to work some drills into my runs though. I will say that when I worked on my cadence in cycling I did get faster - I had a series of cadence-based workouts I used in conjunction with a cadence meter on my bike. It led to a much more efficient pedal stroke for me, and thus, less energy being wasted. I used to be a masher. Again, not the same as running, but I do think about sometimes. I'm not sure if upping my run cadence would yield similar effects as my current run cadence is near the "optimal" rate, though it would be interesting to experiment with.
                          Scout7


                          CPT Curmudgeon

                            I was joking about the stride length action, btw... though I used to be a gymnast and I had to do split leaps across the floor. I do need to work some drills into my runs though. I will say that when I worked on my cadence in cycling I did get faster - I had a series of cadence-based workouts I used in conjunction with a cadence meter on my bike. It led to a much more efficient pedal stroke for me, and thus, less energy being wasted. I used to be a masher. Again, not the same as running, but I do think about sometimes. I'm not sure if upping my run cadence would yield similar effects as my current run cadence is near the "optimal" rate, though it would be interesting to experiment with.
                            Yeah, I'm familiar with the cycling stuff, and I do know that maintaining a higher cadence on the bike is better than a lower one, especially if you're in triathlons and need to run after. Part of that is efficiency, part of that is the body's natural metronome. If you come off the bike with a higher cadence, you'll have a higher run cadence. And that makes sense to me as well. But I'm still at a loss as to the sort of things like Chi and Pose Running recommend.


                            Now that was a bath...

                              I'm interested in this concept purely because I noticed a totally stupid trait during today's abismal training effort. When I felt the need to slow my pace (this doesn't happen often as I am pretty darn slow but today was a mood issue) I noticed that I simply started taking smaller steps rather than taking slower strides! All that means is that I was running a lot longer to cover the same distance and my pace appears to drop - but really my feet are hitting the floor many more times to cover the same distance. I am running at the same cadence rate (always nice to have a new word to bore the non-runners that surround me in the real world so thanks for that) but achieving less. I am a little confused about the cadence thing. It seems to me that the technique I described above is a stupid mistake on my part, or am I wrong? Logic would tell me that I should slow my cadence rate rather than keeping it the same and covering a shorter distance? I can understand that if elite runners are all having a cadence rate of appox 180 than that is obviously the right place to be. I think though that there might be a danger in someone new to running distances like myself, focusing on this particular factor in their performance. Thanks though. It's given me food for thoguht. I'm not feeling very bright today and I may have misunderstood the entire thread! Claire xxx
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                                I was looking to see if anyone specifically tried to hit a desired number or if they did some level of workout that has a specific goal of increasing stride rate. I'm not trying to spark a distinct argument, more of a lively debate.
                                Lively debate is always a good thing! I wish I could say that going from 150 strides per minute to 174 strides per minute improved my speed by x seconds per mile. I can't, even though its probably true. The reason I can't is because at the same time I was working on my cadence, I was also doing tempo workouts, adding to my weekly mileage, stretching more frequently, doing short interval workouts, eating healthier, and losing 20% of my body mass. What I can say for certain is that I can run 174 strides per minute at the same heart rate as I can run 155 strides per minute. I run faster at 174 spm than at 155 spm. So from a heart rate perspective, and from a perceived effort perspective, a faster cadence is more efficient for me. Personally, when I did cadence drills, my goal was incremental improvement from the last drill. So if my last drill resulted in 164 strides per minute, I'd go into the next drill hoping to match or improve from that figure. I never targeted a specific stride rate as my goal. The real goal (i.e., the long term goal) was to get so comfortable running somewhere between 170-180 strides per minute that I didn't have to think about it -- I wanted it to become second nature. Once I found that every time I checked my stride rate, I was at around the same cadence (~174), I figured I was at my optimal level.
                                How To Run a Marathon: Step 1 - start running. There is no Step 2.
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