Many amateur runners end up questioning the proper running technique. They become especially relevant when a lot of effort is put in, but there is still no appreciated result. Then a lot of unfamiliar words and concepts appear on the horizon: heart rate zones, interval training and, of course, cadence.
What is cadence, what should it be, how to train it and what benefits does it bring to a runner? in the Leonid Shvetsov marathon.
What is cadence
The word “cadence” (from English cadens) means rhythm, tempo, number of certain movements per minute. In running, this word came from cyclists or even triathletes.
Cadence is how often a runner’s feet touch the ground while running.
Running cadence is measured in steps per minute. In athletics, before the term “cadence”, the expression “step frequency” was used.
The vast majority of amateur athletes run at a low pace without even realizing it. It’s only at the finish line that they begin to quicken their steps, erupting the finish. The average pace of amateurs, depending on their preparation and anthropological data, varies from 150 to 165 steps per minute. Tall people will always have a lower cadence because their lower limbs are longer and it is more difficult for them to take frequent steps.
What cadence is considered normal
There is an optimal cadence when running: it varies from 170 to 185 steps per minute. If your cadence is lower, it indicates an irrational use of the properties of human tissues and the resource of the runner in general.
What is abuse? The human musculoskeletal system consists of three types of tissues: hard – these are bones, elastic-contractile – these are muscles, elastic non-contractile – these are tendons, ligaments and cartilage. We use the properties of these fabrics during the race.
When people run at too low a pace of 150 to 160 strides per minute, they use a lot of muscular effort. And almost does not use these hidden possibilities of elastic tissues, which can add propulsion to their stroke, or, in other words, a natural forward movement.
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If a person runs with a cadence of 175-180 strides per minute, his steps become smaller at the same speed as 150 strides per minute. Only the 150 cadence runner puts in more muscular effort, their stride is longer, and their landing is in front of them, not below the center of gravity. This causes braking, including a heel landing. In addition, it is traumatic: the muscles are attached to the bones using tendons, and significant muscular effort causes them to overstretch. Repeated day after day, this can cause inflammation of the Achilles tendon.
A high cadence runner lands close to the center of gravity, has no overhang in front of the knee, and therefore no braking while moving.
Remember: the lower the speed, the lower the cadence.
With an increase in speed, the frequency of steps should also increase, and not just their length.
What does cadence affect?
Cadence affects running economy and injury rate. A high cadence is essential for long distance runners.
If a person has a cadence of 160, it is very likely that when landing, he puts his foot far in front of him and most often on the heel. Such a landing causes braking and increases the risk of injury.
When the foot is brought closer to the center of gravity, the structures of the foot – the arches of the foot, the microligaments of the joints, the plantar aponeurosis – as well as the Achilles tendons and the calf muscles act as a physiological shock absorber, reduce the risk of injury, reducing the impact on the feet. And cadence improves exactly that component of running.
How to measure cadence
The easiest way is to choose a foot, count the steps for one minute and then multiply by two. To make the result more accurate, it is worth repeating the measurements several times and taking the average value.
In addition, you can use gadgets: sports watches or sensors, which some manufacturers have now begun to sew into sports shoes, also measure the frequency of steps. Special smartphone apps can also help with counting.
How to increase the pace
The simplest solution is to activate an audio metronome and try to maintain a given rhythm. But this is not the best option and you do not need to immediately increase the pace to 180 steps per minute. All you need to do is increase the pace by 5 steps from your current usual pace. Then you will not have tension and discomfort. You should gradually increase the frequency of steps.
The most reliable and correct way to train cadence is to develop the necessary neuromuscular connections or reflexes. When the optimal cadence reflex becomes unconditional, that is, at an automatic level, then you will be able to run correctly even when fatigued.
To develop this reflex, you need to perform special exercises:
- run in place
- jump in place;
- quick heel pickup and such.
The cadence also depends on the physical condition of the foot. The more your feet are developed (supple and strong), the higher your cadence will be. Pay more attention to exercises aimed at strengthening the feet and increasing the mobility of the ankle and metatarsophalangeal joints. These are all kinds of toe lifts, variations of varjasana, standing on the edge of the foot, rolling a small ball with your foot every day. By doing all these exercises, you are reprogramming your neuromuscular apparatus.
This will help to improve cadence and correctly selected shoes. These shoes have a low toe heel, a wide forefoot and a thin sole. Excessive cushioning causes the runner to run with wide strides with a low cadence.
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Each runner can change their pace, but it will take different times for each. As a result, with an increase in cadence, running technique will improve, tolerance for high running volumes will increase and, most importantly, injuries will decrease.
Is it possible to get high results with low cadence?
Yes you can. But at what cost ? And what is a high score?
Among the successful athletes, there are some, and there are very few, who run with the wrong running technique, but quickly. And if we undertake to recycle them, the speed will decrease for a while, but it will return to high and even increase even more.
What are the benefits of a high cadence for a runner?
Cadence is one of the elements of good running technique. And even if a person lands on his heel, but runs with a high cadence, this is already better for his joints, because the shock load is significantly reduced. So think about how you run and your legs won’t let you down.
Read more: Cadence by bike