Why Cadence is Crucial For Running

Running has a few elements that are crucial to one’s health and fitness. With proper cadence, a runner can not only increase their running times, but can also reduce their chances of injuries. Cadence in running, how often your feet touch the ground, is also an easy way to improve running form.

When beginning a training regimen, most runners start off at what they’re physically capable of doing and work toward goals to improve distance and speed. What many may not realize is that by focusing on and improving cadence, one can largely improve speed and endurance at once.

By focusing on cadence, runners can reduce the amount of stress they put on their knees, ankles, and feet. This means they are decreasing their chances of injuring their muscles and joints, enabling them to keep up with their training efforts and continue to improve their fitness levels.

Most professionals suggest that cadence be around 180 strides per minute. While at first that may seem excessively fast, it’s actually attainable — even for beginners. An easy way to get your cadence up to speed is by adding songs with 180 beats per minute to your running playlist.

It’s important to keep in mind, though, that 180 strides per minute may be too much for a person. Depending on one’s level of fitness, ideal cadence can vary. Each runner is unique, so it’s vital to listen to one’s body and not push it beyond its limits.

The reason that cadence can play such a large role in injury reduction or prevention is that with a faster stride, a runner is decreasing the vertical loading rate and stress on the skeletal system. A faster cadence usually means a runner will likely strike the ground mid-foot. This means that while training, runners are reducing the amount of weight and pressure put on their joints.

When a runner over extends their stride while running, it can lead to serious injuries, such as torn muscles. To prevent this, keep in mind one’s fitness level and aim to gradually improve cadence over time, rather than going straight to running at 180 strides per minute.

Proper running form also plays a factor into one’s cadence. When out training, try to remember to keep your arms at about a 90-degree angle to your sides. If your arms are too high, it can cause you to over stride and may potentially lead to an injury.

By training at a pace of 180 strides per minute, a runner can also improve their running economy. Running economy is known as how efficiently your body uses oxygen at a certain pace. A more constant pace means a more constant flow of oxygen throughout your body. This, in turn, can mean less strenuous runs and faster times overall.

Again, it’s important to listen to your body when enduring any running or training regimen. To test your current cadence, simply count your strides for one minute. Once you know your current number, you can set realistic goals to improve cadence gradually, without overworking your body and muscles.

Rachel Wood is a health and fitness writer. Information provided by Mettis Trainer. Rachel writes for Fusion 360, an advertising agency in Utah. Find her on Google+.

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