What is Running Cadence? It Might Be the Key to Running Longer

If you’re looking to get better at running, you need to focus on two factors; running cadence and stride length. These two factors contribute to a runner’s speed. So what exactly is running cadence, and how does it help?  We provide you with running tips.

What is Running Cadence, and How Do You Measure It?

Running cadence is the frequency of the stride. In other words, it is the total number of steps that you take per minute. Running cadence is also called foot turnover.

People running in a marathon.

For instance, when someone runs a marathon, the number of steps per minute is recorded. It is called their running cadence. For example, Usain Bolt has an average of 4.28 cadence per second or 257 steps per minute.

How Do You Measure Running Cadence?

An easy way to measure your cadence is to count the number of times your feet hit the ground in a minute. For example, if you count only one foot, you can multiply it by two to get the cadence.

If your right foot hits the ground 90 times, you multiply the number by two and get 180. It is your measured cadence.

You can also use a running watch or a foot pod.

Factors Affecting Running Cadence

Running cadence varies from person to person because it depends on multiple factors. For a long time, people believed that the ideal tempo was 180 steps per minute. Jack Daniels, a running coach, promoted this idea.

However, other factors influence cadence. Some of these factors are:


Terrain affects the cadence. For example, some obstacles such as mud or pebbles will affect your tempo if you run uphill. 

Height of the Runner

Cadence depends on the height of the runner. Taller runners have a lower cadence because their steps are longer. On the other hand, shorter runners take more rapid steps and cover the same length in a shorter period; hence they have a higher cadence. 


Speed affects the running cadence. It is because if you’re jogging, then you’re likely to take 160 steps per minute. However, if you sprint, your cadence will be about 200 steps per minute, so speed influences your cadence.

How Do You Get Better at Running?

Since cadence and stride are the two factors that affect your running efficiency, you need to focus on these to get better at running. So how do you boost your cadence? Here are some running tips.

Minimize Overstriding

One way to get better at running is by minimizing overstriding—overstriding causes you to land your feet away from the body’s center of mass. As a result, it creates a breaking force that you need to overcome to propel yourself forward, and this wastes your energy and affects your striding frequency. 

Maintain Forward Momentum 

Maintaining your forward momentum helps boost your cadence, and you can also run longer without getting tired. Your body should lean forward while running as this will support your forward momentum. It also helps to lower impact on the legs and creates a body balance.

Increase Cadence 

An increase in cadence will influence your running efficiency. To increase your tempo, you can improve your stride rate. Try to run to music and focus on each stride. Maintain your posture and take shorter strides at first.

For example, if your stride rate is 160, try to make it 170 and slowly progress from there. If you run on a treadmill, then it’s best to increase the speed by one every minute.

While doing so, also count your steps for thirty seconds after five minutes. Then, gradually increase your pace to increase running cadence.

Increase Your Tempo by Setting a Target

If your cadence is 160, aim for 170 and improve your tempo gradually. Also, try to sprint downhill and uphill to accelerate the transition. Practice is the key to improving running efficiency so try to stay consistent.

Workouts for a Faster Cadence

There are a few workouts that help you get better at running. But make sure that you are ready for a sprint to avoid getting injured from running

Downhill Sprints

Downhill sprints are great at improving your stride rate. After a warmup, try to sprint downhill for about 200 meters and gradually increase your running speed towards the bottom.

Fast Feet

Take short and quick strides and take the maximum of steps in ten meters. Try to reduce ground contact when you’re taking strides and repeat this at least five times. Reduced ground contact and quicker strides help to improve running cadence. 

Race-Pace Tester

Men running across a bridge.

Fartleks is one such training that helps you to run faster over longer distances. It is fast running with interval training. Run fartleks of two minutes and jog for one minute between reps. Count your steps during this workout to improve your running cadence.

Cadence; The Key to Running Longer

Cadence has a significant impact on running, and it might be the key to help you run longer without getting tired. It is because cadence helps to improve the efficiency of the runners. When runners focus on tempo, they tend to reduce overstriking and improve their running form.

A better running form helps to improve posture and reduces the impact on your legs. Moreover, it reduces the ground contact between your feet and the track. As a result of less friction and better posture, you run faster.

There are few chances of injuries because of the reduced impact on your feet, ankles, and knees. In addition, you stay regular with your interval training and practice more if you do not get injured while running. 

Cadence improves your stride and helps you run longer without getting tired; that is why it might be the key to running longer. 

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Final Words 

While cadence may not be the only factor that improves your running, it is undoubtedly an efficient way to improve your running form. So what matters is that you try to maintain your posture, improve your cadence, and gradually achieve your running goals.

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