Long-winded question on cadence (Read 101 times)


    I've recently got back into running after about 8 years away. I purchased a new Garmin Forerunner this past summer and that has provided a lot of my motivation and impetus to hit the asphalt again, lose weight, and get back in shape. Probably like a lot of you, I love poring over the data after my runs are completed. I'm amazed at all the new running dynamic stats that Garmin provides you now with the new wearables (I also have a chest strap HRM). The one that I have found myself returning to lately is running cadence.


    I am wondering how many people pay attention to their cadence and if I should be ascribing any importance to it at all. My average cadence is around the 150 spm range, which I found was quite low compared to the 180 spm mark that seems to be the community standard. Now, common sense tells me that if I run faster then my cadence should rise accordingly. But 150 still seems very low, which leads me to wonder if my form is all off and I am running incorrectly. Keep in mind that I am tall (6'3'') and still quite a bit overweight from my inactive years so I expect some of the low cadence is a natural result of my body shape.


    Should I be worried about my low cadence and try to consciously improve it and rework my running form or should I just concentrate on losing weight and getting faster normally and expecting the cadence to naturally follow?

    an amazing likeness

      You recently returned to running, so your cadence should be very low on your list of things to worry about; as your running fitness improves, you'll naturally increase cadence. Increase in pace comes from both stride length and cadence. Let it happen naturally as you get more running fit.


      Just keep in mind 'over striding' -- that is you want to not have a massive stride length and low cadence as it loads up your impact damage; keep that foot impact right under your hip.

      Acceptable at a dance, invaluable in a shipwreck.


      Interval Junkie --Nobby

        Got off the couch in 2011.  6'3".  198lbs or so.  Late 30s.  Your first paragraph could have been written by me at the time.  Even bought one of those metronomes to improve my cadence.  Spent about two weeks of frustration with it.  Did zilch.  I threw it away as useless.  I think those timings are meant for much smaller people.


        The main thing I eventually learned is exactly what milktruck mentions: avoid over striding.   Don't lumber.  Or as someone once put it: run like a ninja.

        2021 Goals: 50mpw 'cause there's nothing else to do

          I think what you're being told is to NOT focus on stride rate at this point.  Correct.  Focus on getting fitter and the stride rate may take care of itself as you progress.  Doing some strides at the end of some of your easy runs will begin to have an effect on moving that 150 stride rate (which is very likely overstriding) in the right direction organically. If you don't know what 'strides' (or 'striders') are google it.  Probably the best thing you can do, besides easy running, while trying to get fit.

            I agree with what's already been mentioned about not overstriding. If you're landing more or less under your center of gravity you're probably good. Higher cadence can help but you just need to look at a few different fast people to realize it's not everything. Jim Walmsley's average cadence was only 166 at the Marathon Trials in February when he averaged under 5:10 pace for 26.2 (https://www.strava.com/activities/3142969991/overview). And check out Marty Hehir: his cadence was about 162 while running easy and 166 when running marathon pace in this workout: https://www.strava.com/activities/3142969991/overview. Meanwhile, Scott Fauble's cadence is closer to the supposedly magical 180: https://www.strava.com/activities/4497362213. The moral of the story is, you can run fast and healthy at multiple different cadences. It's more about finding your own optimal stride rate that lets you be efficient and stay healthy.

              Yeah, give it a while and then check it. Your body is doing what it WANTS to at this point, and until you're in fitter running condition it's a little pointless to worry about modifying your gait.


              Slower spm often goes hand in hand with "loping"; a lot of your force-direction is vertical. If you get a chance to see your shadow or reflection, you might notice your head is going up and down vertically with each stride. As you get fitter this will reduce.

              60-64 age group  -  University of Oregon alumni  -  Irreverent and Annoying


                The 180 thing may have come from Jack Daniels as mentioned in his Running Formula. 180 or so was the cadence demonstrated by runners in middle distance to possibly 5k racing at olympic level. So not relevent in any way to just about any runner on these forums going for a training run. And likely those runners were 5 foot 6 to 5 foot 10 as well. I also struggled for a time with being advised about the 180 thing. Being 6 2 and not elite this was never going to be my training cadence. Remember alslo racing is a different matter, I could get into the 170s for intervals or maybe a 3k or 5k race. Never on a long or medium or recovery run. So bottom line for me, is that everyone is different and it is not useful to have an arbitrary number dictate the way we each run.


                  Thanks, everyone, for the pointers. You all pretty much voiced what I was thinking myself to just get out and have fun getting back into it without worrying about the underlying statistics at this point. I feel like I do a good job keeping the over-striding to a minimum and keeping my feet underneath me, but I will keep an eye on it.

                    for reference, I'm 5'10 and usually am at 176 for most runs. Fast stuff like mile or less I get into the low 180's. I've always marveled that going literally twice as fast (let's say 9:00 and 4:30 paces) the spm is only 6-7 different.

                    60-64 age group  -  University of Oregon alumni  -  Irreverent and Annoying


                    Mother of Cats

                      I am short, with stubby legs.  I thus naturally have a quick cadence - about 180 when I'm jogging; in the mid-190s for marathoning.


                      A tall friend of mine, with a cadence in the 160s, once told me that he'd love to have my cadence and wished he could trade me something for it.


                      I told him I'd happily swap him my quick cadence for his 2:3x marathon PR....


                      Cadence ain't everything.

                      Everyone's gotta running blog; I'm the only one with a POOL-RUNNING blog.


                      And...if you want a running Instagram where all the pictures are of cats, I've got you covered.


                        As an update: Today I ran a mile time trial in 8:36 and my average cadence worked out to 170 spm so that kind of put the whole question to rest for me.


                        Overweight per CDC BMI

                          I describe the cadence question to people as "run like a hippo" if they are having any pain such as shin splints. Regardless of the specific cadence #, landing soft and limiting your bouncing can help reduce overuse injuries.


                          The main thing I eventually learned is exactly what milktruck mentions: avoid over striding.   Don't lumber.  Or as someone once put it: run like a ninja.

                          Memphis / 37 male

                          5k - 20:39 / 10k - 44:59 / Half - 1:36:58 / Full - 3:38:10

                          SMART Approach

                            A drill to do or mix in your runs for short stretches and then later in long stretches is to simply be focused on landing and then immediately getting off road or surface quickly. Try to think about getting off the surface with barely hearing yourself land on the surface. Think like you are running on a very hot surface and don't want to burn your feet. I still do this often and find that my stride shortens some and I am wasting less energy. Over time it becomes more natural whether SPM are 165 or 180.

                            Run Coach. Recovery Coach. Founder of SMART Approach Training, Coaching & Recovery

                            Structured Marathon Adaptive Recovery Training

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                            Intl. correspondent

                              @lizardmn - ditto to what the others said. Keep running and let the cadence fall where it may.

                              I'm 6'1 and I'm around 175-180 for easy runs and over 190 for races, even over 200 for sprints.

                              There are many personal characteristics involved, I suppose longer legs versus shorter legs (in relation to your torso) and hip width might have something to do with it. Neural ability as well, meaning how quickly can you alternate left and right leg on the ground.


                              As for over-striding, running form etc, same thing.

                              Do not *think* about it or try to concentrate super hard to do something.

                              Instead, do strength training and strengthen that core, legs, whole body. Your posture will improve and your running form will improve along with it, without ever thinking about it. As a bonus you will be stronger throughout your day (opening heavy doors, lifting heavy objects, climbing stairs, everything will become easier).

                              This will also ensure you remain injury-free, as a weak core/body is the root of many injuries.

                              PRs: 1500 4:54.1 2019 - 5K 17:53 2023 - 10K 37:55 2023 - HM 1:21:59 2021

                              Up next: Base building till August

                              Oct 1st - World Half Marathon Champs in Riga - Latvia - sub 1:21:59 PR

                              Dec 3rd - Valencia Marathon - sub 2:59

                              April 2024 - Porto Eco Trail - Finish the damn thing.

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                                To "correct" overstriding, go for a run barefoot or in shoes with low to zero cushioning, like water-shoes. You'll start landing better after just 4-5 steps!

                                60-64 age group  -  University of Oregon alumni  -  Irreverent and Annoying