Whether you’re a weekend jogger, a budding marathon runner or simply looking to improve your technique on the treadmill, there are always simple changes that can dramatically improve your running form. Who doesn’t like some cheeky coaching advice?! We know you do, so AGOGA has brought in some international expertise to help boost your running by increasing your cadence.
This week we’re delighted to welcome ultra-marathon runner Dan Chabert, who’s bridged the digital gap from Denmark to Australia to share with us his tips for improved running by increasing your cadence. Not sure what your ‘cadence’ is? Perhaps it’s time to see what our expert recommends – over to you Dan!
“Running is a fairly simple and straightforward activity for the everyday athlete as it doesn’t really require years of specialised training or technical practise to figure out the motion.
At its core, running is about putting one foot in front of the other hundreds, if not thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of times. Perhaps unsurprisingly, running remains an incredibly popular endurance sport with half marathons in particular, as popular as parties these days! More than ever before people have figured out how much joy running can bring to their lives, and in doing so, so many people have decided to take care of their health to become the best versions of themselves. Everyone wins.
It’s fairly predictable that the longer you run (ie the more years you do it) the more interested you’ll become in getting ‘better’. Some people define their improvement by being able to run certain distances for the first time, and others base their improvement on performance goals such as running faster than they ever have. Others simply want to stay injury-free for as long as possible, which in itself is a laudable goal since so many runners are beset by injury each year.
If you’re looking to improve as a runner – by running faster, by running further, or even by staying injury-free – one of the best things you can work on is your cadence, or how many times your feet hit the pavement per second or per minute when you’re running. Your cadence can affect your running in ways that are obvious and in ways that are less so.
According to legendary coach Jack Daniels’ study of elite athletes’ footstrike patterns at the 1984 Olympics, the ‘gold standard’ running cadence is 180 steps per minute. As it turns out, 180 isn’t as perfect a standard as we first thought since there are many variables that can affect how often your feet hit the ground each minute (the terrain you’re covering being especially important). Regardless, most of us would benefit from having a faster turn-over each minute during our runs.
Having a faster and more efficient turn-over will minimise the risk of injury; the theory is that if you have a higher cadence, you’ll be less likely to over-stride and therefore less likely to run with your feet hitting the ground far beyond your center of gravity. If you’re not injured, then it’s far easier to be able to run further and faster than you ever have before!
So how do we increase our cadence and improve our running? Here are my top 4 tips:
- MEASURE YOUR BASELINE. Before you go about trying to increase your cadence, it’d obviously benefit you to know where you stand from the get-go. If you have a GPS-enabled watch that has a built-in accelerometer, count yourself lucky because you’ll be able to get your cadence statistics after every single run. If you don’t, then it’s still pretty straightforward to do it the old-fashioned way; simply go out for a comfortable run at your usual pace, count how often one foot hits the ground in 30 seconds, and once you have the sum, multiply it by two to account for how often your foot hits the ground in a minute. Double that value to get the sum for both feet over a minute timeframe. You can’t know if you’re progressing if you don’t know your starting point, so don’t forget to do this crucial step before you try to implement any changes!
- PROGRESS SLOWLY. Now that you have a starting point for your cadence, try to increase it very incrementally, even by as little as 5%. Trying to increase your cadence might mean that your running form feels a little different than usual, so there will likely be a learning curve involved for you, and things might just feel ‘weird’ at first. Just go with it, and be patient. Doing too much, too soon, and too quickly is a recipe for disaster. Trust and enjoy the process.
- GET THE BEATS GOING! Many runners swear by listening to music when they’re running and racing because they find that it helps them run faster, especially when they (subconsciously or otherwise) try to stay with the beat of the music. A quick search online will show you databases that have sorted collections of songs by their respective beats per minute (BPM), so consider doing a little research to find songs that meet your desired cadence goal. Music services like Spotify also provide special running playlists which can be tailored to specific BPM requirements – so cool.
- CONSIDER A COACH. Last but certainly not least, if you’re committed to becoming a faster or more technically competent runner, definitely consider investing in the knowledge and experience of a running coach [AGOGA of course recommends our very own running specialist Veronika Larisova!]. Doing so will ensure that you receive personalised training advice and recommendations, and if your coach knows that you want to enhance your cadence (perhaps among other goals), then she/he can take that into account and advise you accordingly. Even better: if you find a running coach that’s local to you, then she/he can actually watch you run and advise you about ways to improve your cadence. Your coach will be able to consider parameters that are unique to you (including your weight, height, speed, or stride length, for example) before dishing out advice to you, and you’ll be able to rest assured that you’re getting input that’s relevant to you and not something you pulled off the internet because it looked ‘good’.
There are so many ways that we can aim to improve as runners, and fortunately, increasing our cadence is one way that can help us in a variety of running pursuits, such as running injury-free, getting faster, or running further than ever before. Give these tips a go and I wish you all many years of excellent running.”
Writing from Copenhagen, Denmark, Dan is an entrepreneur, husband and ultra-marathon distance runner. He spends most of his time on runnerclick.com, monicashealthmag.com & nicershoes.com and he has been featured on running blogs all over the world.