Sport and well being

Published by Boogie, 04/30/21

Running pace: why work on it?

running pace


We've all heard about cadence training, but few really know what it is. Why and how can you work on your cadence when running? What are the benefits of a pace of 180 steps/minute? Boogie tells you everything!


Today, I'm talking to you about a rather obscure subject: running cadence! What is running cadence? It's simply the number of steps you take per minute when running. A beginner runner tends to run around 155-160 steps per minute, whereas it has been scientifically proven that the "ideal cadence" is +/- 180 steps per minute. For me, with my four legs, it's easy, but for you humans, things are more difficult.

Here's a quick look at all the questions you might have on the subject.

How to calculate your running pace?

In order to know your pace, there are two simple ways:
The old-fashioned way: choose a foot and count the number of times it touches the ground in one minute. To find out your pace, multiply the result by 2 (because you humans have two legs). This test can also be done on a treadmill, which is slightly easier.

More modern version: the vast majority of sports watches give you the pace at the end of the session (the "spm": steps per minute). Nothing to do but run, too easy!

What is the ideal running pace and why?

The ideal pace is the one you would have if you were running barefoot. It is different for each individual but scientists and specialists agree on 180 steps/minute, plus or minus 10 steps (so for the mathematicians: between 170 and 190 we are good!). Moreover, professional athletes, whether in the 5000m or in the marathon, run around this pace of 180 steps/minute... this is certainly not a coincidence!


running pace

Why work on your running cadence?

Having a better cadence will make you more efficient: you will use less energy because you will need less propulsion with each step. You'll also get more energy back from each impact on the ground and you'll see that without realising it, you'll tend to attack less through the heel and more through the midfoot/front foot. Less impact on the ground also means less shock for your little love joints that you've been mistreating for years (which runner can boast without lying that they've never had a sore knee, hip, ankle or back...).


How to improve your running pace?

Improving your running pace is like anything else: the key word is progressiveness! If you are running at an average pace of 155 steps per minute, the worst idea is to try to run at 180 steps per minute overnight!

The best thing you can do to work on your pace is to download a metronome app and follow the beat as you run. Once you feel comfortable with a given pace, increase the pace by 5 steps the following week. Be careful, a higher pace does not mean more speed (at first)! Train yourself to run at a higher pace while running at your usual speed, and you will gradually see that your muscles will be less tired - you will be able to run faster without feeling the effects! Don't neglect your breathing when you run to avoid side stitches!

In short, you have everything to gain by working on your cadence: you will gain in efficiency (and therefore in speed), you will relieve your joints (less risk of injury), and your running technique will be much better.

Be careful to go gradually though...Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither was your running body!

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