Ask The Coach: Should I Increase My Cadence?

If you want to become a better runner, monitoring your running cadence can be a powerful tool.

RW Editors |

Should I increase my cadence? – CHLOE, Cape Town

Elite athletes run at a cadence of over 180bpm, and it’s common practice to try to emulate what they do.

There is theoretical evidence that running at higher cadence leads to athletes keeping their position better over their centre of mass, because they’ve shortened their stride.

RELATED: 8 Ways To Up Your Cadence

But to truly benefit from increased cadence, you should also maintain a longer stride, which increases biomechanical stress. If you can master increased stride frequency, while maintaining stride length and moving over your centre of mass, you’ll reduce the load on your joints and some muscles. But there’s also evidence to show this increases load to the soleus (calf) and achilles. Therefore, any changes must be made with caution.

RELATED: A Simple Drill to Correct Overstriding

Try shortening and increasing cadence, both up and down hills. This helps to reduce force generation going up, and the pounding on the way down. Both will spare your muscles and reduce fatigue.

That said – through many years of trying to change both my own cadence and that of the athletes I coach, I’ve found that a) it takes a long time, and b) when under stress, we go back to what works best for our unique biomechanics anyway.

RELATED: 6 Exercises to Make You Stronger on Hills

Lindsey Parry is a qualified biokineticist, Two Oceans and Comrades silver medallist, and 2:47 marathoner. Email him at

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