1) First of all, download a running app that tracks your running cadence (steps per minute).
Then you can monitor a) what your existing cadence naturally is, and b) what you managed to change it to with deliberate effort.
There are many free apps that will measure cadence these days, but one I’m familiar with myself is MapMyRun (shown in the first part of the video above).
2) Next, you need a way to help remind you to change your natural tempo… Download a metronome app to “beep” you into proper rhythm.
Again, there are many free options. The one I’ve shown in the second part of the video is MetroTimer on the iPhone.
When I fixed my running cadence, I went out running with the metronome beeping at 170bpm, and I tried matching my foot strikes on the floor to the beeps… just like I was dancing!
It felt weird at first. My natural slow jogging cadence was more like 150bpm, and 170bpm felt like I was running like I’d wet myself!
But after a few more runs, I got it.
And it did feel far more efficient than what I’d been doing.
It allowed me to employ the same running mechanics I used at high speed…
Falling forward, led by the weight of my head, allowing my feet to just “pedal” underneath me to keep up.
Much like if you’re running downhill, or across a slippery ice patch!
Try to feel that you’re stepping “under your centre of gravity” rather than reaching out too far in front with your lead foot.
You’ll be slightly leaning forwards into your run and “falling down hill”, even if you’re on a flat or going uphill!
As you lean forward a little to adjust balance, keep your spine long — think deadlift shape, rather than curled fighting stance…
You’ll become more aware of your glutes, and feel their positive contribution too!
The trick is to find the correct, most efficient degree of forward lean according to the surface incline that you’re on and the speed that you are travelling at.
For me, further experimentation showed when I ran fast, I naturally adopted a 170-180 spm cadence.
It was only when steadily jogging that my cadence dropped to 150 spm – and the reason my calves only strained when I ran slowly, rather than when I ran fast!
Problem solved! I hope this helps you too, like it has for others I’ve shared this with…
“After changing my cadence even on slow runs to 180, not only my knees felt better after long runs, but interestingly my speed at the same heart rate went up. So it’s definitely more efficient.” – Hans B.
“Just had a calf strain myself where it would be aggravated on my LSR, but fine on a fast 5k, and there was about a 10 difference in my cadence. The tough thing is adjusting cadence when trying to run slower.” – Richard S.
The impact of this seeming small change shouldn’t be underestimated, and neither should you assume that just because you haven’t had any problems (yet), that your running cadence is already good.
Do check it out… The sooner you correct the habit the better.
“Wow yes been very mindful need to hone my roadwork game and just checked -running at 150.” – Ricky B.
And finally, to clear up any potential confusion regarding heart rate bpm… They’re two different things.
Suggested target heart rate bpm (beats per minute) for cardio training sessions – for example, while running using the Cardiac Output training method from the program at 120-150 bpm – is entirely different to foot strike cadence spm (steps per minute) discussed in this post.
You should be able to hit 170-180 steps per minute on the floor, regardless of your heart rate beats per minute.
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Don Heatrick is a family man from the UK, former mechanical design engineer, European Muay Thai silver medallist, former pro Thai boxer (ranked 4th in UK while aged 40-years), a Muay Thai coach, podcast host, and the go-to expert on Muay Thai performance training with over 25 years of coaching experience.
Don helps ambitious fighters and coaches take their game to the next level by bridging the gap between Strength & Conditioning, Performance Science, and Muay Thai.