Friday, July 20, 2012

Take Control of Your Cadence

You need to be the boss of YOUR cadence, don't let it be controlled by someone that's not you! I noticed sites like these (Link Here) are popping up to sell you songs in an effort to better control your running.  Their web site claims this:  

Header Technical

Linking BPM to Running Speed

How to work out which BPM to choose: The run2rhythm program is essentially coupling running cadence to music.
With running, very few people can sustain a steady rhythmic pace over an extended period. Many tend to start too fast and don’t get to finish the distance intended, or within the time targeted for the run. The run may not last as long as they intended…..”puffed out early!”

Outdoor running:

  1. Run for 15 minutes at a pace you are comfortable with
  2. If you are starting out this will be slower than if you are a conditioned runner.
  3. During that run count your steps for 1 minute. Do this several times to get an average.
  4. Then, refer to the chart below to determine the BPM you should choose.

I think in their description they're smearing cadence (steps per minute) and running speed.  In a car you've got tachometer and speedometer, tach measure cadence of engine, speedo is mph of vehicle.  Like running in place is steps / min and 0 mph.  To extend my analogy too far ... a pump is an engine (like a car engine) that runs at one rpm all day.  A pump's engine's rpm was chosen to be at it's peak efficiency.  Running is much the same way.  There is little reason to deviate at ALL from YOUR personal efficient cadence when endurance running.  

What is 'my' natural cadence?  My resonance?  Well it depends, but not by much!  You can experiment by just hopping in place (two foot hops to start with) like you're jump roping. Start out springing up once a second.  You'll notice that's so slow that the spring energy you loaded on your tendons dissipates before your next hop.  Try two hops per second boing-boing-boing, you should notice that some energy is stored then released to help you spring back up.  As a boundary condition try hopping as fast as you can.  It's WORK!  A typical figure to work with is 180 steps per minute (aka 90 strides per minute).  If you want to synch that up to music or an audio metronome (many apps available for phones, or search metronome on  

I treat 180 spm as a MINIMUM.  If you're running there is no good reason to allow that stored elastic energy to dissipate, use it for your next stride and it doesn't hang around long!  ;).  An interesting test is to search for your maximum.  Fun thing to try at a track, do a series of 200m with rests each one increase a few strides per minute.  After 205-210 it's really hard to keep up.  What's your max?

Note: if you are synching up to music or beats, treat each beat as a foot LIFT, (not foot fall) otherwise you'll find yourself planting your foot unnaturally hard.  

Enjoy and let us know how it goes!

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