Using cadence and stride length in running training

Your running speed is 2 x stride length x cadence. There are two ways to run faster:
moving your legs at a higher cadence or taking longer steps.

Using cadenceCadence is the number of times the foot with the stride sensor hits the ground per minute.

Maximizing your cadence efficiency can take some effort but with proper training you will be able to sustain your optimal cadence throughout your runs and this way maximize your performance.
Nerve-muscle connection needs to be trained reasonably frequently to develop cadence. A session of cadence training a week is a good start. Try to incorporate some cadence work into the rest of your training week as well. During long easy runs, for instance, you can include some faster cadence every now and then.

When training for longer running events (½ Marathon, Marathon, or longer), it may be helpful to monitor cadence. A low cadence at expected race pace can cause problems later in the event as your legs tire. One way around this is to work on increasing leg speed at expected race pace.

You can set your running computer to show pace and cadence. Try to shortening your stride and increasing cadence while holding the same pace (set a narrow pace zone to give you audio feedback).You can aim to raise running cadence above the following:
  • 80/min (4hour Marathoners)
  • 85/min (3hr 30min Marathoners)
  • 88/min (3hour Marathoners)

This is a general guide only. Elite long-distance runners typically run with a high cadence of 85-95. On uphills, cadence values are lower; on downhills higher. Taller runners will have slightly lower cadence. Tune in to what feels comfortable!

Using stride length Stride length = average length of one step. This is the distance between your right and left foot touching the ground.

Runners adjust their stride length to gather speed. Stride length increases as speed increases. One of the most common mistakes novice runners make is over-striding. The most efficient stride length is the natural one – the one that feels most comfortable. By strengthening your leg muscles to take you forward with a longer stride you will improve your performance in and out of races.

A good way of improving stride length is to undertake specific strength work, like running hills, running in soft sand, or running up steps. A six-week training period which includes strength training should result in noticeable improvements in stride length. If combined with some faster leg speed work (such as short strides at best 5km pace), noticeable improvements should be seen in overall speed as well.