A little post for a fellow blogger, Slow Runner Girl about the little I know regarding cadence.
Since my running debut happened last July (2016), I’ve been, I guess like everyone else, trying to get better, faster. Basically, trying to improve all aspects of my running. One of these aspects is cadence.
The post is my findings and no doubt everyone will have there own take on it. And, I’m sure you could find loads of information on the world wide web too.
Looking back on some of my old metrics (January 2016), my cadence was sitting at 168 and my stride length was 0.99m. Things have changed since then. How? Well, I did a bit of reading and investigated how to become a ‘better runner’, seeing as I’m pretty new to this game. I found a lot about cadence and realised the importance of keeping your legs turning over at the same rate, regardless of incline, or decline.
Obviously, playing with your biomechanics can change a few other things so it wasn’t as simple as that. A fair bit of effort and perseverance later, and a lot of counting, my cadence line tends to be reasonably flat. Whether I go up a hill or down one. But, how do you get it to do that?
Ah ha… the million dollar question.
For me, it comes down to counting. I find myself not thinking too much whilst I’m running, and never really have. I tend ‘just to run’ but if I find myself doing anything, it’s counting. I count my steps and try and make sure they are consistent on the up, and on the down. Now that said, you need to make adjustments on the up and adjustments on the downs in your stride length, or effort.
One thing will ‘give’ on either of these. It could be your HR, your cadence or effort. Effort is linked to HR and can be ‘controlled’ as can cadence. It’s a bit of a learning game and I think it’s where counting definitely helps. If you effort is waning due to your HR going through the roof, your cadence usually falls off due to fatigue. So probably better to control your candence. Smaller steps, less effort but same quantity. Overtime, as you get fitter, you can reach a higher HR and better recovery, your cadence will maintain the same but your stride length will increase.
Whilst I was running he Great Glen Ultra, I happened to be running with Ryan Mckenzie, the eventual winner that year. We got chatting during our 20k together and he gave me some valuable information on, not only the race but his cadence too. Whilst I was running alongside him, I asked about his running form. He seemed effortless and I was curious as to how he achieved it, over and above hard work obviously. He said he had run this route a lot and knew where to put the effort in and where to relax. Fair point. Want to get good at a route… run it a LOT. Also, his cadence had me interested as he had a reasonably high turn over too, and I asked about it. He said, regardless of what he did, he couldn’t get it below 180(ish). This was music to my ears, as my natural cadence is fairly similar.
So, that might be a lightbulb moment. We all have an inbuilt rhythm. If you mess with it, too much, you’ll probably pay for it later on.
I’m aware there are ‘magical’ numbers that are said to the the optimum, i.e. 180+ but some folks might never get near that. For me, it’s linked with speed and effort and as said before, effort is linked to HR and recovery rate.
I would ask this…What do you want from it?
For me, I’m not overly fussed about stride length as it’s naturally changing on its own. I’ll never be a sprinter! But, it’s changing for the better, i.e. getting longer. At times, it’s recorded as 1.2m and my HR is down whilst running at 185(ish) cadence with a 1.2m stride. Which means that everything is going in the right direction.
So, on your next run, count. Count your steps when you are running, in your opinion, a reasonably steady pace. Mentally note the timing of that and when you come to change elevation, try and put that pace back into motion. Something will change… effort, HR, stride length or cadence. Let me know how you get on.
Hope my ramblings help.
Before I go… check out this site… Cadence – Running efficient. It deals with the subject in cold hard facts.
Enjoy your counting.
Don’t worry, normal service will resume very shortly.
Apologies for the tardiness of late.
Now… lots to write.