Hi, I am Jermain Breidel, running coach at Vondelgym Amsterdam and captain of the Patta Running Team. Next to that I’m a long distance runner. The coming period I will be sharing tips and tricks to help you start running and to make you run and train more efficiently. In this first edition I will discuss the ideal stride frequency or cadence which will be really helpful, especially for beginners.
Running tips: the optimal stride frequency
In this article we will focus on one of the basics in running: the ideal stride frequency or cadence.
For runners the ideal stride frequency is about 180 strides per minute. When you retain this frequency, you will run more easily and you will notice your runs will become more smooth. I will explain how you can consciously work to improve on this.
There are many different ways of running. If we zoom in on stride frequency we can find just as much different running styles. Some people run in a jumping way, in which they make almost just as much speed as hight because at each pace a lot of force is being used. Because of the force used for each pace they make big steps with a long levitation period. A good way to start running more efficiently is to consciously reduce the length of your paces and in this way run at a pace of 180 strides per minute.
What are the advantages of a smaller stride?
- – When making shorter strides you are forced to make lighter strides and to use less power for each stride.
- – Your feet will stay closer to your body when making shorter strides. This makes it more likely to land on the ground with the middle or front of your feet in stead of with your heel.
- – Your foot will unroll much better when making smaller strides in stead of running with a powerful take-off which also causes a forcefull impact when landing.
How do you adjust your current stride pace?
Step 1: determine your current stride pace
Determining your current stride pace or cadence can be done quite easily. Go running in the way you always do and count how many times your right foot touches the ground in one minute. Multiply the counted number by two en you know your current stride pace. For most runners the stride pace will be below 170. In general taller people will even do less compared to smaller people.
Step 2: speeding up your stride pace
There are different ways you can adjust your running pace:
Put on some music
What is really convenient is that there is a lot of music with exactly the amount of beats per minute as you would like to run. This is super handy because in this way you can just run on the beat of the music to maintain the optimal pace. Just do a Google search on “music 180 bpm” and you will find loads of songs.
You can buy a metronome at a music store or install a metronome application on your smart phone. The app iSmoothrun for instance already has a built in metronome. Compared to many other applications this one stays active and accurate. Also when the phone is blocked. Next to that also your rhytm is registered. What you can do is switch on the metronome for the first 10 minutes to run on the pace of the metronome. The next 5 minutes you switch it off and continue running at the same pace. After the 5 minutes have passed you switch the metronome on again to see the difference in pace. You can repeat this during your trainings and in the app you can analyse your results into detail.
Should you gradually adjust your stride frequency or do it in 1 go?
To increase your stride frequency you can do two things:
1. increase your frequency every week by at least two steps per minute to gradually reach the 180 strides per minute
2. adjust your stride frequency in 1 go, cold turkey, and let your body get used to it
Check what feels best for you and then choose one of these strategies. There is no good or bad option. The most important is to let your body adjust to the 180 strides per minute in order to be able to continuously run at that pace.
To see if your stride frequency has actually improved it is important to also run without music or a metronome. This is also a good way to figure out your natural stride frequency. After a couple of trainings with music or a metronome, plan a training without any tools. Track the training with your smart phone or stride counter and finalize the whole training without any help except for your senses. Analyse/calculate your training when finished and if needed modify your training for next time to get to the optimal stride frequency.
When you have adjusted you stride frequency to 180 per minute you will notice running becomes more easy. It will cost you less energy and effort.
We would love to hear your experiences with adjusting your stride frequency! Just comment here below and help others to become more efficient and have more fun in running.