A quicker run tempo, or cadence, will benefit any runner willing to learn the proper technique. Requiring less effort to learn than you might expect, shortening your stride will increase run speed, decrease injuries, and add to your enjoyment of the sport.
Knowing your cadence is an important first step to a quicker run tempo. Perform this on one of your usual training runs on flat terrain or better yet, a treadmill. Once you are 10 to 15 minutes into your run, count the number of times your right foot strikes the ground for one minute. Repeat several times over the course of your run to arrive at an average number of steps per minute. You can also count the steps in 20-seconds, and multiple by three.
As a rule, runners should strive for a minimum cadence of 85 cycles, per foot per minute, for a long slow distance pace and 90 cycles per minute for a shorter distance, according to Joe Friel, author of the book Going Long, and a top triathlon coach. (See References 1)”
Increasing your cadence or run tempo requires you to shorten your stride. To do this, you need to create a target, a place at which your foot needs to land each time it strikes the ground. You want to land on the middle of your foot, not on your heel or toes, with your foot under your hips. This is your target zone.
Lean slightly forward from the ankle, be sure not hunch your shoulders. Land lightly, with your foot parallel to the ground under the center of your body. This reduces the shock of impact. Lift your foot off the ground quickly, spending less time on the ground and in the air. Do not worry if at first you do not succeed, this will take time to master, especially if you have been running for quite some time.
Maintain proper body mechanics while working on your run tempo. Remember to look ahead 10 to 20 yards. Maintain a relaxed posture through your shoulders with hands loose and relaxed, as if you are holding an egg in each hand. Your arms should maintain a slight swing that is parallel to the ground without crossing your body imaginary centerline.
Get your feet back on the ground quickly. Focus on moving forward with your knees. Focus on propelling yourself forward, not up. Remember, to quicken your stride, your feet need to spend less time on the ground which is best accomplished if you’re landing mid-foot rather than heel-striking.
Gregg Seltzer is a certified run & triathlon coach. He works with many runners each year to quicken their run tempo or cadence. He is a coach at www. triabilitycoaching.com, and may be reached @ 800.884.2194 or email@example.com for comment or training arrangements.