What’s the best running cadence? Does it even matter? Our Geelong Podiatrist explains

What is running cadence?

Cadence is simply the amount of steps you take in a minute when running. It’s something that we’re more aware of these days as most of us use GPS watches or running apps which give us the data. Although it has been something that running coaches have been looking at for many years.

Is there such a thing as the best running cadence?

Ok, so this is a bit of a trick question… There is a commonly held belief that 180 steps per minute is the magic number where optimal performance lives, although take this with a grain of salt. When measuring professional runners cadence it’s common for the range to sit between 170-190 with a few outliers either side. This then factors in for natural body type differences, such as a tall person with long legs will need to take less steps to cover the same ground as someone much shorter.

What about us mere mortals getting out for a trot on the weekend? It can be anywhere from 130 and up! So bringing your cadence up to 180 seems like worlds away. But over time we ALL become naturally more efficient, so beginner runners will almost always have a slower cadence compared to more experienced runners.

How can I measure my running cadence?

If you have a GPS watch or running app you’re very likely already measuring it.. But for those without, all you’ll need is a regular watch. Just count how many steps you take over 15 seconds and multiply by 4. Dead simple right? An interesting exercise is to try this at the beginning, middle and end of your run to see how fatigue is affecting your form.

How can I improve my cadence?

There are a few different things we like to use when improving cadence is the goal. These are;

  • Using a metronome app on your phone, just set to the intended cadence and you’re away!
  • Get creative with a playlist of up tempo songs which correspond with your desired tempo. Music apps like Spotify even have curated playlists for this exact purpose making it a convenient and great option.
  • Particular running drills which we can design and implement for you. This is the best option if you’re coming back from injury and increasing your cadence has been identified as a strategy for you.

As always, if you have any questions please feel free to reach out or get in contact,

Danny Hegarty – Podiatrist