Tuesday, April 12, 2011

All about Cadence

I spent my entire run this morning - all 5 miles of it - working on my cadence. I counted my steps per minute for probably 30 out of the 46 minutes of the run.  That's A LOT of counting.


I'm a terrible heel striker and this has created problems for me with my running over the years.  My stride is just too long, forcing my forefoot to hit the ground heel first.  A little heel striking isn't terrible, but too much creates injuries.  Add that to my overpronating and I'm just an ugly runner sometimes. 


Occasionally I have a pretty stride. 


So basically my goal before marathon training starts again in August is to work on my cadence.  I got the inspiration to really start focusing on this after reading a blog from blogger buddy Steve here. Steve has recently been sidelined from running due to injury so his awesome physical therapist analyzed his running gait and had interesting things to say about it.  Steve's a lot faster than me naturally and his cadence should be about 180 footstrikes per minute.  I figured mine was probably about 140-150 per minute and I should try to keep it above 160.  By forcing a quicker turnover of my footstrikes I wouldn't have time to heel strike as my foot would more naturally fall flatter in front of me. 

On a side note, when watching the video of the 5K point at the Austin Marathon, I totally noticed that my non-existent boobs seemed to be bouncing more than they should have been.  Again, I'm an ugly runner because that just shouldn't be physically possible.

So out I trekked for a 5 miler.  I paid absolutely no attention to my pace, but merely concentrated on a faster cadence, counting my footstrikes per minute.  I was generally falling at about 160 footstrikes per minute exactly.  But I had to concentrate on it...I could feel myself wanting to extend my legs further in front of me and slow down my cadence.  Keeping quick turnover felt sluggish and weird, but I kept it up.  I surprisingly had a first mile at 9:18, about 30 seconds faster than how I felt.  So far so good.

It's amazing how quickly a run can go by when you are concentrating so much on counting steps minute after minute.  Before I knew it I was over 3 miles in the run. Awesome!  But I couldn't slack off...keeping that cadence was definitely something I needed to keep my focus on.  I even managed 165 a couple of times, so that made me very happy.

Once I was done with the run I checked my mile splits. All miles were within 10 seconds of each other, most within 5, with a 9:17 overall pace.  Not sure if this good pace was just because that's the pace I've gotten used to running over the last month, or because the faster footstrikes were actually speeding me up. 

All in all, I thought it was a great "technical" run and I felt like I learned a lot about the mechanics of my running form.  It's something I need to keep working on over the next few months so it will hopefully become much more natural to me before serious training starts. Getting faster will be icing on the cake.

And what's bizarre to me...I feel sore.  I never feel sore after 5 miles.  I take this as a good sign.


  1. Check out Podrunner on iTunes. He puts out techno tunes with beats per minute already set at 150, 160, 170 and everywhere in between. I love it!

  2. Hi! Found your blog and I am loving it! I can really appreciate this blog about cadence. I, too, am an "ugly runner" and have to consciously make an effort to run with a more midfoot strike. Like the above commenter, I suggest picking the right tunes to keep you on track. I like the website www.runhundred.com. Happy running!

  3. Thanks guys!! Going to check out your suggestions...