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Thursday, August 10, 2017

My cadence is crap

I did this brief foray into Strava this Spring, and while I ultimately deleted the account, it did have some useful features.

One thing I've noticed (besides the hilarity that is the elevation here: I'll run ten miles and only see elevation go up or down 1 foot!) is that my cadence is TERRIBLE. Like, so bad. If 180 is the goal, I'm nowhere near. I'm usually under 170!
Now, for my tempo run last week, I hit 179 at 6:50 pace, so maybe it's mostly speed related. Maybe my slow-down-and-speed-up steps when I stop and start affect my average (it does seem like runs where I stop a lot have a lower cadence). But if that's the case, wouldn't other peoples' cadence show the same thing? And I can see their cadence on Strava, and everyone else is much closer to 180 (some are over 180!).

By the way, once I deleted Strava, I can view the same data on Garmin Connect, like this run from Saturday: it's a typical moderately-easy 8 minute pace run, but my cadence is just 168. It does seem - although maybe I'm looking at this wrong - that my cadence is worst at the beginning of the run. Do I just need to find my groove?


So, what should I do about this? Does it really matter? Does higher cadence correlate with faster race times? Will taking more steps help me stay healthy?

Has anyone ever increased their cadence? How did you do it? Did you notice an improvement in time or decrease in injury?

9 comments:

  1. Wow -- 1.2m average stride length, that's impressive! And inversely correlates with cadence. Google "Ironman Run Technique - Gliders vs Gazelles". Nice Youtube video showing differences between stride length and cadence.

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    1. Interesting resource! The thing is, I run like a glider - just with a longer stride and slower cadence. My form is much more glider, though, and I have almost no vertical movement. I'm a weird hybrid!

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  2. As far as I know, speed and cadence don't have much of a link. Back when I was training with a weigh vest, I ran with our run-walk group and I had them check their cadence while running repeatedly -- many of them right around 175-180, even at a 12:xx pace.

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    1. I should clarify. It also wasn't different when they checked between their easy pace and their tempo pace. Just right on track all the time except when walking.
      (Carina, signed out again)

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  3. Every time cadence comes up, I'm reminded of a conversation I had with a friend a few years back. We were checking out Garmin reports, and he commented on how jealous he was of my 19x cadence.

    I told him I'd trade my cadence for his 2:3x marathon PR any time he wanted...

    And that honestly sums up how I feel about cadence. I think we're all built differently - I have very very short legs, even for my height - and our bodies select the cadence that is best for us. Honestly, you run very well as is - I'd worry that playing with your cadence might do more harm than good.

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  4. I don't know if cadence is very important, but I heard some people improve theirs using a metronome app. I tried it once but it was kind of unsettling. My cadence is somewhere 180+ spm no matter what my speed is, as long as I am running and not walking. But I don't know if truly makes a difference ...

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  5. Yeah, when I did the whole RunSafe form analysis thing, they suggested that the whole idolized 180 cadence is overhyped because a) there IS a relationship with speed, b) it's more of a range than a certain number, which can vary from person to person, and c) "fixing" one's cadence does not generally seem to make one faster. (Increasing cadence *can* reduce injury risk IF it's severely low and IF the reason for that has to do with overstriding.) When I race I'm usually in the 185-195 range according to Garmin, but on easy runs, it's more like 175. So, I dunno. If you're not having injury issues, I wouldn't worry about it.

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  6. How tall are you? It appears that you have a nice long stride. When I run "slower" recovery efforts my cadence is in the low 170's when I run tempo my turnover is faster and I hit the 180's when I started working with a coach he told me that I was over striding, and he helped shorten my stride.... It seems like I traded speed for endurance though and I miss being lighter and faster.

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    1. I'm 5'7", but I don't think I have particularly long legs. My turnover is also faster with a tempo or a race, but still rarely over the 170's!

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