By Ed Griffin
The other day I had a chance to run with a friend on her neighborhood running route. My friend is a regular, age-group winner and an easy person to run with, which is code for she will run my pace.
As we ran along with my friend doing most of the talking, I noted that she has a very high cadence, meaning she takes shorter steps and more of them. As we finished our 5-mile run and I looked at my watch, my pleasant surprise was that we ran about 10 to 15 seconds per mile faster than my everyday pace and I felt great.
Of course what my friend was doing naturally was using high cadence, one of the four principles that Fleet Feet Sports teaches in Good Form Running. We conduct occasional free GFR Clinics and it is incorporated in all of our training programs from No Boundaries to Marathon Training.
Most runners take about 160 to 170 steps per minute as they run. As they tire, that number may go even lower. Good Form Running suggests that cadence of 176 to 182 is much better for your body and will make you faster. Forget about what your high school gym teacher tried to teach you, longer strides are not better. The simple reason is gravity. The longer you are in the air, the harder you hit the ground, increasing the impact on your body and the risk of injury.
The good news is that the cadence part of Good Form Running is easy to incorporate into your running. Most GPS watches that we sell at Fleet Feet Sports have a variety of cadence information. My TomTom watch provides post-run cadence information in both overall average for my run and each mile split. The feedback you get will tell you if you are getting better or not.
A tip on increasing your cadence is kind of odd. If you move your hands and arms quicker, your feet will follow, meaning move your hands and arms quicker to increase your cadence.
There are three other principles for Good Form Running but we can leave that for another day.
With the Dunn Tire Mountain Goat Training Runs starting this Saturday, higher cadence can help you get ready for the Goat. Using shorter steps on the downhill sections of the course will reduce the impact on your body, leaving you stronger for the rest of the race. Don’t forget, the Goat features the signature 10-mile race and a two-person relay. Prices go up soon, so sign up for the Goat and the training run series that starts Saturday.