Does cadence change with running speed?
Updated: Sep 27, 2021
In this blog, we explore how running cadence changes with speed.
In order to run faster, there are 2 ways you can achieve this:
Cover more distance with each stride (increase stride length) OR
Take more steps (increase cadence)
A 2014 study by Schache looked to examine how cadence & stride length change as runners increase their speed.
What did they find?
Both cadence & stride length increase with running speed, but which strategy is utilized depends on running speed.
As you can see in the image below, at speeds slower than 7.0 m/s (25.2km/hr or 2:24min/km), the dominant strategy to run faster is for the runner to increase stride LENGTH with only small increases in cadence.
As the pace increases from 7m/s to sprinting (8.95 m/s), stride FREQUENCY/CADENCE increases by 25% whereas stride length changes very little (image below).
Now considering that most distance runners will NOT reach the higher speeds used in this study, cadence will increase as they run faster, but it will usually only be between 5-10%
In the video below, we see an example of cadence changing with increasing speed:
175 steps at 5:30min/km
186 steps at 4:30min/km (6.3% increase)
194 steps at 3:30min/km (4.3% increase)
How can we use this?
If you are changing your cadence, it's important to realize that it's pace specific i.e. if you are trying to increase your cadence to 175, it would most likely mean that at your slowest running pace, your cadence would be 175, but as you run faster, it will increase a further 5-10%.
Runners, if you would like help with your running technique, please don't hesitate to reach out to us!
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Schache, A. G., et al. (2014). "Lower-Limb Muscular Strategies for Increasing Running Speed." J Orthop Sports Phys Ther: 1-44.