what is cadence in running

What Is Cadence In Running? We Are Here To Help You Out

Perhaps you are an avid runner who loves nothing but running all over your neighborhood, whether it is on the streets, on the sand at the beach, or on the rough trails in the woods. You pretty much live and breathe running, and you would not sacrifice it for anything.

That said, you probably take careful steps to ensure that you have the best experience running as possible. You might have also heard of cadence, but you are not quite sure just what it means. You are probably aware that it is an important term, and that it is necessary to find out just what it means.

Hence, the big question is this: what is cadence in running? We are here to help you out! Read on to learn more in this article on what it means, as well as get some of your most frequently-asked questions answered. Soon enough, you can set about getting your cadence right on the way.

Without further ado, let’s get right down to it!


What does cadence mean?

In essence, “cadence” refers to the frequency of rotations that one produces in a given amount of time. In other words, it is the total number of revolutions per minute (RPM), and it can be used not only in running, but also in cycling and other sports which rely on repetition and time.

In terms of running, cadence is the amount of strides that one takes in a given set of time, whether in minutes or in seconds. It is also commonly referred to as “gait” or “stride,” and it can be a good indicator of how fast you are going, as well as consistency.

What are the techniques behind cadence?

While you might think that cadence is a simple concept, it is more complicated than you think. In fact, there are a lot of bodily parts and mechanisms involved in the process, and knowing each step is the best way to go about helping you improve your rhythm, speed, and overall performance in running.

Below, we list the important techniques behind cadence:

1. Initial contact.

As the expression suggests, it refers to when your foot first comes into contact with the ground. It is from the front leg’s foot, and this is when you can possibly heel strike or not, depending on the way you run, i.e. your running form.

2. Braking and absorption.

After the initial contact, the body reacts to counteract it through a smooth, controlled movement; it requires the use of muscles in order to do so. The foot at the same time uses what is known as “elastic energy” to reduce the impact of the contact through shock absorption, and from that produces energy that is saved to be used later on, particularly for the next stride and thereon afterwards.

3. Mid-stance.

While the front leg receives the impact at first, that energy is then transferred to the supporting leg as it passes over the body. If you have ever looked at a screenshot of a runner’s stride, the mid-stance is that of the runner’s supporting leg posed in mid-air.

Again, the supporting leg takes the maximum load from the energy received from the front leg during the initial contact, and as a result it is saved for the supporting leg to be used as it becomes the front leg in the next stride.

4. Propulsion.

This is probably the most complex move in the cadence cycle, as the knee, hip, and ankle extend all at once in what is known as “triple extension” to elevate the lower body and move forward, i.e. propulsion. The elastic energy gathered from the braking and absorption step is then channeled to help with the propelling process.

Next is what is known as the “swing phase,” which is simply when the supporting leg is, literally, swung forward and then the initial contact step starts up once again.

How can I improve my cadence?

Especially if you are a distance runner, perhaps you know about the “magic number 180,” which is a calculated number for the strides per minute in order to succeed as a professional athlete. That said, you might want to know how you can improve your cadence to be a good runner. We have a few tips to help you out:

1. Set a goal.

First things first, you will need to set a goal for your cadence in running. While you might not be up-to-par with hitting that “magic 180” just yet, it is still encouraged for you to set a reasonable goal before you get to that number later down the line.

In other words, perhaps you can make it your goal to hit 120 strides per minute for one to two weeks, before slowing making your way up to 180 after a few more weeks. Setting these expectations will keep you motivated as you build resistance over time.

2. Count your steps.

While it might be difficult to do so in the midst of running, tracking your steps will greatly benefit you in the long run, literally and figuratively. Whether you choose to do so in your head or use a step tracker to do it, counting your strides will give you a good idea of what your current level is, as well as push you to improve from there.

3. Practice, practice, practice.

Really, no good athlete ever became great without having practiced; the same goes for you. Keeping a consistent schedule every week, let alone each week, will help you become stronger and more accustomed to changes in the body as you perfect your stride. Your cadence will show as it becomes more frequent and consistent, and you will be proud of that.

For a video on how to improve your cadence, check it out here: 


Altogether, running cadence is an important aspect to consider if you plan to become a better runner. By taking steps to improve, you will be well on your way to an enhanced running performance.

Feel free to comment and share! Happy Running!

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