Hello folks and hopefully Eric!
Happy New Year!
I have been running at a cadence that I used in my first 8 week Speed/Strength virtual training with Eric (on Trainingpeaks.com), which is right around 168bpm. I have been looking for information about cadence and have not been able to find out the reasoning behind the actual number of bpm. In the training program, Eric recommends 21-23 footfalls per right foot/per 15 seconds, which is a range of 168 - 184bpm. I suppose it is harder to maintain a higher cadence, but since I seem to have embedded the 168bpm into my body, I was wondering what benefits or drawbacks a higher cadence would have. I can experiment with my metronome when the snow disappears, but I want to know if anyone knows (Eric?) why or what a higher or lower will actually lead to. Thanks for any comments and/or suggestions. If anyone knows of any good books on the subject, that would be great too!
I think is harder at first to have a higher cadence. Your heart rate may be slightly higher at the same pace. As you progress, it become easier. I think one of the most important reasons for a quicker cadence-is injury prevention. Most times when runners have a lower cadence they are overstriding. If you are overstriding-heel striking with a straight leg-with the contact point forward of the hips-its really hard on the knees. Staying injury free-ultimately helps you become a better runner. A quicker cadence will make you faster. One thing that fast runners have in common is a quick cadence. If you want go run some 400's working to keep the cadence around 180, recover and run another at 140. Compare your results. Something I do to work on cadence-I take my phone(android) and download a free Metronome. Throw some of your favorite music on your phone. Start your music player, and then start your Metronome. Set it so it is 2 beats faster than your current cadence. Work on a nice quick midfoot strike on the beep. At first it may seem tuff, even silly. You will get to a point where you are doing it without thinking about it. Add two more beats per minute.
Thanks for the reply, Rob! I found a couple of articles online after looking a bit harder:
I have a friend that just started running over the summer, who told me she was getting achilles tendon soreness and had to stop running. I ran with her and noticed she was overstriding, so I started running with her and a metronome set at 168bpm, with a really short stride, and she did her first 5k in December. I know it is a good thing, but until I looked into it more, I wasn't sure why...at least the mechanics of the why.
This article is really a write-up of a study on what they call "step rate," with is cadence:
Funny, but in paragraph 6, they say the way the arrived at the rate over a minute was to count the right foot falls for 30 seconds, and multiply by 4. I hope they fixed that in the final paper!
In any case, its no wonder Eric suggests running with short strides and counting your cadence (counting right foot falls for 15 seconds and multiply by 4). The .pdf listed above, as well as a number of other excerpts I found, all mention the benefits, one being a reduction in joint loading. It makes sense that if you go slower and your feet land ahead of you, that there would be point where the knee may get hyperextended, which seems to me would obviously cause knee and achilles problems.
Rob, thanks for the suggestions. Once the snow disappears here in New York, I'll try some changes in cadence and see how it goes. On the iPhone, there is an app called "Cadence Trainer" that I just found as well, but it is just as easy to carry around my electronic metronome. I use a garmin with a foot pod for heart rate monitoring, and I always look at the cadence, and as I said before, I started with Eric's program at 168bpm, and it varies very little from that now, even when I listen to music. So, somehow it gets ingrained, the more you practice. I did Eric's Speed/Strength virtual training on a track, without music, so I am guessing that 8 weeks of paying attention to it, will fix it in ones mind.
If anyone has any other experience, or can recommend any good explanations on cadence, I would love to hear more.
I have a related question for this thread. As suggested above I have also found my efficiency is way better with a faster cadence. What I am struggling with is to keep good form at a slower cadence. When I run with a decent cadence I inevitably speed up and push my heart rate up. No problem in a race but I find it almost impossible to stay in HR zone 2 or 3. Any tips?
If you are able to run at a steady cadence (if you know your heart rate zone, then I assume you have a garmin, which, at least when I am using my footpod, measures cadence...I am not sure if it does cadence with gps), then in order to lower your heart rate, you want to keep the cadence steady, and just shorten your stride to slow your heartbeat. Eric has said that it is harder to run at a higher cadence with shorter strides, that to run at a higher cadence with longer strides...it is almost like taking baby steps...but it works. So you will appear to be going much slower, but your cadence will still be the same. Then to raise your heartbeat and/or speed up, you would just start lengthening your stride. My favorite way of feeling how that goes, is something Eric has one do in most of his training plans...5x30 second speedups. You feel how it feels to speed up from running slow to fast (over the time period of 30 seconds...so you aren't going from zero to sprint, but gradually speeding up until you hit 30 seconds. You don't have to change your cadence, but you do lengthen your stride through time. Driving the knees forward is something Eric always says, and it is how you lengthen your stride. Also, it is easy to feel the impetus to want to bounce...bouncing is usually from overstriding...jumping in the air forward isn't what you want to do, you want to lengthen your stride, by increasing the knee drive...try to speed up smoothly. When you do box jumps, or just plain running in place, you can land hard or land softly. Controlling the deceleration (coming down) is hard to do and takes foot and ankle strength that can be strengthened with proprioceptive balance exercises...i.e. standing on one foot for as long as you can (other foot with the knee up, toe pointed down by the standing knee); standing on one foot with your eyes closed, moving on to standing on one leg on a BOSU or Airex pad. I hope this isn't too much information at once...I think most of it can be found by looking around Eric's forums. I would hope some other people would chime in as well.
Thanks for your advice John. The speed ups sound like a good way for me to get a better feel for a varied stride length. I always feel like I am just "shuffling" when I try and run slow at the moment
I've long struggled with a similar feeling. Open up the throttle and I feel efficient and strong, try and go a little slower and it feels like the wheels are coming off—I couldn't find a rhythm and my form deteriorated.
It wasn't until I met Eric and I got on the slant board and really spent some time strengthening my feet that I was able to fix this. The key for me has been that my new foot strength enables me to do more barefoot/vibrams running. I still don't like to train barefoot, but I've found that when I do my short 20-30 min recovery runs in vibrams my speed is sort of naturally governed. Because of this, I've been able to develop a more natural stride at a slower pace and keep my heart rate down.
I wouldn't suggest this is the solution for everyone, but without the extra protection of my shoes I've found that I don't have the desire to really speed up and can find that groove in HR zone 1-2 with good form. Over time I've been able to find that same stride no matter the terrain or shoes, its become sort of engrained in muscle memory.