What Is Running Cadence?

You may run into the term “stride rate” or “cadence“. What are all these jargon about?

Cadence or “stride rate” refers to how many times the feet hit the ground per minute.

What’s an “ideal” stride rate. Is there a magic number? Why?

The short answer, 180 is a “magic number”, as you’re spinning the legs like rotating wheels. At this rate, it’s most efficient and reduces the risky of injury. The world renowned running coach, Jack Daniels studied the most efficient runners, and the stride rates are typically over 180 steps per minute, which is associated with high running economy.

So, should I ALWAYS run at 180 steps per min?

Not necessarily. While 180 is a good number in general, there are so much more to it. The stride rate does fluctuate slightly with different paces.

As you run faster, the stride rate will increase, especially when you get into the anaerobic zone (under 400m), the stride rate can go up to 200 or more, but that requires anaerobic power and will not last long.

On the other hand, as you run slower, the stride rate tends to drop. However, if you let it drop to too low (eg. lower than 170), the form starts to become compromised and the risk of over-stride and injury increases.

If you can, try to keep the cadence over 170 even for your recovery runs, or at least 165.

Cadence for beginners:

It’s not uncommon for a new runner to have a cadence significantly lower (165 or less). It usually takes a while for the beginner to get to a cadence of 170, as the strength and coordination builds up. 

If the cadence is lower than 160, it would be better to work on the running mechanics before doing long endurance runs (half marathon, marathon or longer) to minimize injury.

How can I apply this to my run?

The takeaway…try to reach 180 steps per minute on you comfortably hard runs (such as tempo). For easy/long runs, listen to your body, it can relax a little under 180, but still try not to let it drop too much, so that your body can get used to it. Focus on light and quick leg turnover, reduce the stride length to get the stride rate up. 

Finally, cadence can be an indication of fatigue as well, indicating a loss of form and body mechanic. I’ve seen this happen in runs were I pushed the limit, towards the end I’m exhausted and start to lose form, the cadence drops, and ground contact time all suffer.


Learn more about our Signature Coaching Program that Rachel used to make her marathon dreams a reality here: https://learn.sparkhealthyrunner.com/coaching

Related Podcast Episodes:

Episode 159: How to Grow as A Runner with Dr. Duane Scotti

Episode 156: Running Isn’t a Battle of the Sexes with Dr. Emma Ross




Learn more about working with Coach Lu here: https://learn.sparkhealthyrunner.com/lubio

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What Is Running Cadence?

You may run into the term “stride rate” or “cadence“. What are all these jargon about? Cadence or “stride rate” refers to how many times the feet hit the ground per minute. What’s an “ideal” stride rate. Is there a magic number? Why? The short answer, 180 is a “magic number”, as you’re spinning the… View ArticleRead More

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I had worked with multiple other coaches and physical therapists with little success and was at the point of almost giving up on my love for running. Duane is so kind, thoughtful and knowledgeable as both a physical therapist and running coach. Our first virtual meeting lasted two hours because he was so meticulous in his assessment. His strength and running program is progressive and created so that you can continue to build strength and mileage as you heal. His strength program is unique, effective, and fun.

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Over four months of working with Duane, I have built back to five days a week of running and am almost back up to my pre-injury weekly mileage and long run distance. Whenever I have flare ups or setbacks, Duane reassures me and makes necessary adjustments so that I can continue to progress in my running journey. I have had so much success with him so far that I have signed on for four more months so that he can help me to continue getting stronger as I train for the Dopey challenge in Disney World.

If you are struggling with a running injury and are feeling hopeless, you have to reach out to Duane Scotti. Of course, you will have to put in a lot of hard work, but with Duane by your side, you will be able to achieve your goals and more. Thank you Spark Healthy Runner for bringing the spark back to my running!”

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