Have you ever thought about how important your stride length and cadence are and how it relates to being efficient during your run? Have you ever worked on changing your stride and/or cadence? Or have you always run with whatever stride and cadence has come natural to you?
What is important to understand is your stride length and your cadence can play a big role into how efficient your stride is.
Attempting to take long strides, or “stride out” decreases the efficiency of your stride. As you take these long strides, your momentum ends up staying behind your center of gravity. This makes it more difficulty to transition or maintain your body moving forward while you are running.
Along with your center of gravity, you also end up putting more downward force into the ground. This downward force causes your energy to go into the ground rather than forward, once again, decreasing the momentum and wasting a lot of energy.
Running with a shorter stride length will keep your center of gravity more forward and put less force into the ground, allowing you to keep your momentum moving forward and conserve energy. This conservation of energy allows you to run further with less effort!
As you shorten your stride, your cadence will naturally speed up. Or we could reverse it and go the direction of as you increase your cadence, your stride length will naturally shorten. These two compliment each other very nicely.
When looking at cadence, the research has shown that the most efficient cadence is between 178-180 steps/minute. This will vary from person to person depending on a lot of factors, but being in the ballpark is ideal.
So how do you determine where your cadence is? Many wearable devices will do this for you! If you don’t use wearable technology, when out on your run (not on a treadmill), count how many times your right foot hits the ground in 1 minute. Multiply that number x2 and you will have your cadence.
Once you have that number, you can decide if you want to work on changing it or leave it where it is. If you are significantly less than 178-180 and want to work to increase it, I would suggest increasing by no more than 10% at a time, letting yourself get comfortable at that new cadence before increasing again.
A couple great ways to learn the new cadence: use a metronome app or use music. If you are someone that enjoys running with music, you can easily do a search online for “music with ___ beats per minute” and find songs to run to. Whether you realize it or not, your feet naturally run to the beat of the music you are listening to.
Am I saying it is necessary for you to change stride and cadence? Absolutely not. Just providing you the information to allow you to make an educated decision for yourself.
Stay tuned to upcoming weeks as I get into how upper body plays a roll in efficiency as well.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions regarding your stride and cadence!