It’s not really a secret for practiced runners but for beginners it may sound alien in this context. The key to running faster is to forget about speed and concentrate on cadence.
So first, let’s define cadence for all you new runners before we get into the details of it. In one simple word cadence is rhythm. If we break this down further, cadence is the number of steps in a minute, which eventually defines your running rhythm.
Much has been spoken and written about cadence but all studies suggest that a higher cadence is always better for the runner. When you run with a slow cadence, you are more susceptible to injury because of the slow, heavy force and impact that happens with each footfall. Also while running slow, you’re more likely to overextend your leg out in front of your body, and that absorbs a lot of force with each step.
As we have already mentioned in the past, your feet absorb nearly 5 times your weight with each step. A slower cadence means that you are taking a lot more steps for each run, which really isn’t advisable for longer runs. It takes a greater toll on your muscles, which are already being exerted a lot.
The best cadence for running is considered to be at 85-90 steps per minute for each leg, but it takes a while to reach this number. So don’t worry if you are not getting close to this in your first week of running. Like with many of the running techniques, it takes a while to perfect this. Just make sure you are not regressing with each week, because then there’s a lot of catching up to do.
You can measure your cadence by either counting your steps or running with a metronome. But you can maintain a high cadence by following these simple tips.
Forget about speed
We told you the key is to not focus on speed, but your rhythm. Focus on smaller steps rather than running faster. This might feel feel strange at the beginning, but it will become natural with time.
Make sure your legs are not stretching out to meet the tarmac or the ground. If they land directly under your hips, then you will automatically see an increase
Music is your friend
Listen to music with a high beats per minute (BPM) while you are running. Like in most fitness activities, music defines your speed and tempo, and a higher BPM translates into better running cadence.
Shoes do matter
Wear lighter shoes, if the running surface permits this. It means your legs will be swifter in coming off the ground. They will tend to raise your cadence.
Consequently, you will harness your natural shock absorption properties (Similar to what happens when you jump and land). This results in a more bent knee landing posture, which buffers ground impact and transfers a bulk of the impact from the bones to muscle. Get your cadence to the optimum level, and you will automatically see an increase in your speed.