Speed and Cadence

We have talked about the fact that there is a direct relationship between speed and cadence - the rate at which we turn our legs. To increase our speed we must get comfortable with increasing our cadence. Many of the running experts, including Jack Daniels, have suggested that in order to minimize overstriding, lessen the impact on our legs, and maintain forward momentum, we should focus on attaining a "racing" cadence of 180 steps per minute. The reality is we will take fewer steps per minute when running slower - possibly up to 20 fewer steps per minute). However, remember that when we are doing speed work, we should be aiming for that 180 "racing" cadence. To determine your current cadence, build up to your 5K race speed, hold that pace for 30 seconds and count the number of steps you take. Multiply that by two and you'll get your cadence (steps! per minute). One easy way to practice increasing cadence on your own is to do downhill sprints by running down a gentle slope of 150 -200 metres. On each descent, accelerate down the decline, reaching maximum speed and turnover at the bottom. Recover by walking back to the start, and then repeat. For more ideas and workouts to boost your cadence, see an article by Alex Hutchinson in the November 2012 Runner's World Magazine.