I was reading the other night that the most efficient running style is associated with exactly 180 strides per minute. Apparently, almost all athletes run at this cadence regardless of distance and therefore speed. The faster runners just take longer strides.
Anyway, I thought I better check it out. So on this mornings run I discovered I take 158 strides per minute. So it looks like I’m not an athlete. Darn am I surprised.
So now what to do about it? It is suggested that most runners would benefit by taking slightly shorter steps and increasing cadence but if I take shorter steps I’ll be running backwards. Also, efficiency is not all its cracked up to be. Efficient runners use less calories, which is pants! Inefficiency rules – as do cream cakes.
Thought I ought to provide a link to a more informed opinion on running cadence. The endurance coach
records cadence as the number of times 1 foot hits the ground in a minute ie. half the figure I quoted above, and on his site he details a few training exercises to help increase your cadence. Must admit that non of them involve listening to music with the target bpm.
**SECOND UPDATE 12/02/07**
I have a new gadget in my sights (Polar RS800SD – but more of this later) and it has yet again triggered an interest in the running cadence issue. It’s obviously my cycling roots that encourage this obsessive trait with cadence. The RS800SD monitors and displays both stride length and cadence so that you can schedule training sessions to focus solely on this issue. As they say at polar, there are two ways to run faster: moving your legs at a higher cadence or taking longer steps.
Here is a link to the polar article on cadence and running efficiency, where they make a few suggestions for increasing pace:
“A good way of improving stride length is to undertake specific strength work, like running hills, running in soft sand, or running up steps. A six-week training period including strength work should result in noticeable improvements in stride length, and if combined with some faster leg speed work (such as short strides at best 5km pace), noticeable improvements should be seen in overall speed, as well.”
So it looks like I need to ramp up the treadmill as well introducing fartlek.