Running Cadence

Running cadence is a very close relative of good running form since quick turnover means as little ground contact as possible. Running cadence, also known as a runner’s rhythm, can be quite simply defined as the turn over rate of the feet or legs. It is commonly expressed as revolutions per minute in either total or single steps. The understanding and, more importantly, the application of proper running cadence, is critical to employing correct running form. There is very strong evidence, from data gathered through analysis of elite runners with excellent technique and running economy, that the ideal cadence is a minimum of 180 steps per minute(spm), or 90 spm for each foot. Surprisingly, cadence does not seem to vary more than a couple of single steps per minute when comparing drastically different paces for any individual runner.

One powerful tool you can use to help with your cadence while you run is MUSIC! You can always build your own soundtrack from your favourite selection of tunes but be sure to pay attention to the specific beats per minute (bpm).

Alternatively, here's a little known band called 'Blacklungz' that created the soundtrack for all of the TREADFLIX treadmill training videos where there are 22 songs starting at 90 bpm working their way up to 96. A motivating way to keep your cadence brisk during your run...

For many years, I have been in the habit of counting (secretly) the cadence of runners from all levels. One thing that I have concluded from my observations that prove true time and time again, is that runners with poor running form have a cadence that is either slightly or well below 180 spm. The explanation for this that seems to jump out quite simply is that all of the elements of bad running form such as overstriding with resulting heel striking makes it very difficult to maintain a brisk cadence. This is why I believe one of the first things you should do to help your running form is to first become of aware of what your cadence is, then continually work at improving it.

Check Your Cadence

An easy way to measure your running cadence , is to count how many times your right foot hits the ground in any given minute. You can do this anywhere if you have a watch or are on a treadmill. Once you have your number, work at squeezing one or more extra steps in the next minute. Follow this with relaxing back to what felt like your normal cadence. This little drill as also known as 'quick feet' and this helps to improve your rate of hamstring muscle firing which is the fundamental component of brisk cadence. Not only is this a great exercise to help improve your running form, but it helps to pass the time on those lonely longer runs. It can be fun to see how many steps you can squeeze into a minute.

When you employ correct running form , you are working in harmony with nature and therefore with the laws of gravity. For this reason, an increase in your running pace should translate to an increase in running cadence or otherwise known as leg turnover. Think about the actions of the wheel of a bicycle. As the bike moves forward, the wheel turns. The number of times the wheel makes a full revolution in any given minute increases as the speed of the bicycle increases. In a perfect world, so too would a runners cadence but you have to train your brain and muscles so that they can fire as rapidly as you need them to.

A fun and effective way to apply the quick feet running drills, is through the use of good running music . You'll notice that I've created a downloadable list consisting of music that has been selected specifically for it's rythm. They range from 80 to 95 bpm which, if you run along to and keep the beat, trains your body to produce a quick turnover in a fun and motivating way! Be sure to re-visit that page as updates, including different genres, will be uploaded frequently.

Return to top of Running Cadence page.

Return to Home page.

Share this page:
Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.