Arguably the most talked about element to running and the most experimented with, running cadence gains a lot of attention among the running community. Cadence and/or step rate refers to the amount of steps taken each minute whilst running. This number varies greatly between runners, whilst it has good reason too.
Running is a highly complex task, and each runner is different in the way they run. With respect to running cadence, most runners, at some point would have come across the ‘magic’ running cadence quoted as 180 steps per minute. So, should all runners try and run at a cadence of 180 step per minute? Furthermore, when increasing running cadence what are we actually changing about our running beyond the simplicity of just taking more steps? And when is it actually appropriate to look at changing cadence, and how should it be done?
We have briefly discussed the individual nature of running. So, given that all runners are different, should we all be trying to run at the same cadence? The answer is simple, absolutely not. No two runners will have the same loading profiles, and what is ideal for one may not be for another.
Taking shorter and faster steps sounds simple, but what load reductions will increasing your cadence actually do? Here are a few common ones.
Although these load reductions are useful, taking faster steps will not make this load disappear, rather it will shift it or re-organise it. Therefore, knowing what load changes you’re making is integral to minimising further injury.
What I cannot stress enough is that increasing cadence should be done for the right reasons, and only if it fits your injury profile. So, after considering all elements, and when attempting to increase your running cadence, what should guidelines should you follow?