The Importance of Cadence Part 3: the run

Posted Chris Uncategorized

In this final post about the importance of cadence, I am going to discuss the last leg of triathlons the run. Please check out my previous two posts for the importance of cadence on the swim and bike.

Just like in swimming and biking, cadence plays a essential role in creating an efficient and fast run split. Cadence on the run refers to step taken per minute or your  “turn over rate.” If you take giant bounding hops, your cadence is very low; whereas, if you take quick baby steps like a shuffle, then your cadence is quite high. Both of these extreme examples are not very efficient. In the bounding example, you are explode off one foot, take a break, then bound again, which wastes a lot of energy. While you are moving a long distance, you are still moving at a slower rate. Taking tiny quick steps does not use as much energy and you are feet are moving more quickly. However, you do not move very far.

The best cadence of course is in between these two extremes. Studies have shown that elite marathoners have an average cadence between 85 and 95. Unfortunately, many runners fall way below this average usually in the mid to low 70s. Why? The main reason is that people tend to over stride, meaning that their feet falls ahead of their hips with each step. Not only does this mean your heel hits the ground first, which acts as a brake, but also you are not able to drive your leg back and around into the next step.

Another reason why people have slow cadence on the run is lack of flexibility and bad running form. Tense hamstrings, hip flexors, and glutes prevent you from moving your legs in a good circular motion. Couple this with bad running form, and your legs simply will not move efficiently. Many runners stand straight up instead of leaning forward. As mentioned above, your feet should land right underneath your hips with each step instead of out in front of you.

To increase your cadence, follow these five tips:

  1. Get a foot pod! If you have a Garmin then you can get a foot pod attachment that fits onto your shoe and records your cadence. To be able to improve your cadence you have to first know where you are starting from. Once you know your baseline you can figure out how much you need to increase, which you can do by… 
  2. Drill, baby, drill! There are several drills that you