Cadence of a 'good' barefoot runner?

Discussion in 'Barefoot & Minimalist Running' started by Jaap Francke, Jan 15, 2018.

?

What is your cadence on easy surface? Are you tall or short?

  1. <175 (length below 6 foot 1 inch)

    1 vote(s)
    6.7%
  2. 175-180 (length below 6 foot 1 inch)

    6 vote(s)
    40.0%
  3. 180-185 (length below 6 foot 1 inch)

    2 vote(s)
    13.3%
  4. 185-190 (length below 6 foot 1 inch)

    1 vote(s)
    6.7%
  5. 190-195 (length below 6 foot 1 inch)

    1 vote(s)
    6.7%
  6. >195 (length below 6 foot 1 inch)

    1 vote(s)
    6.7%
  7. <175 (length above 6 foot 1 inch)

    1 vote(s)
    6.7%
  8. 175-180 (length above 6 foot 1 inch)

    1 vote(s)
    6.7%
  9. 180-185 (length above 6 foot 1 inch)

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  10. 190-195 (length above 6 foot 1 inch)

    1 vote(s)
    6.7%
  11. >195 (length above 6 foot 1 inch)

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. Jaap Francke

    Jaap Francke
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    Hi all,

    I read a lot of stuff on barefoot running and it is clear that one should have a high cadence.
    I'm 6 foot and 4 inch and have trained my cadence using a metronome.
    Result is that I increased my cadence from 165 to 175 without a metronome and without paying attention.
    If i concentrate or use the metronome, I can get it to 180, but it will drop as soon as i stop doing that.

    So I'm curious, what cadence experienced runners actually have. I couldn't find any statistics.
    So maybe a poll gives some interesting results....
     
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  2. Jaap Francke

    Jaap Francke
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    By the way, in a similar poll on a Dutch facebook group for barefoot runners, I found that only few barefooters get above 180.
     
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  3. Einar

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    For me cadence depends from surface hardness and temperature.
    At beach in warm wheather 175, hard surface 180.
    Now at winter, if minus degrees Celsius, my cadence close to 200. When body gets warm - 185-190
    Edit - height 176cm
     
  4. Jaap Francke

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    Interesting! I am assuming a relation between cadence and length.
    I wasn't expecting a correlation between temperature and cadence.

    Thanks!
     
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  5. Tristan

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    It also depends on speed, are you talking about just going out for a typical moderate run?

    I've used a metronome app for years, not every time but often. Haven't used in a year or so. I was way under 180 initially but I've worked it up to just about 180. If I'm racing I can hit 180-190 usually, for 5k might be 190+ at 6 minute mile pace (I'm 5'9").
     
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  6. Christian Lemburg

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    I think it is not helpful to focus on the "magic number" of 180 steps per minute. The initial observation that led to the number of 180 was that elite runners in competition run at 180 or more. How these runners run has little to do with us recreational runners. They are so fast ... it is absolutely amazing, a different world. Many elite runners run at 195 or even above 200 at top speed. But let's be clear - that is all-out sprinting speed for us recreational guys. Look at your stride rate then. Ah!

    Increasing cadence helps to avoid injuries by avoiding overstriding and lessening impact forces. To avoid injuries, run with more small steps at any given speed. If you want to increase your performance, you need to both work on your cadence and your ability to generate power on ground contact. That will increase impact forces, and lead to a higher injury potential.

    Don't focus on the magic 180.

    Relax, and dance through the landscape :) ...
     
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  7. Jaap Francke

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    Yes, I was thinking of a moderate run.
     
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  8. Jaap Francke

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    Nice advise!
     
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  9. Jaap Francke

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    These these i do a mix during training: during short intervals I use metronome at 182 to encourage myself to run in a high cadence. Most of the time I run while paying attention to my technique in general and then after the training I typically see that my cadence is 175 which is a bit low.

    The thing I have noticed when I use metronome for longer runs is that my heartrate is also higher compared to runs at the same speed but without metronome and lower cadence. So I think my body (and my Garmin) is telling me that I run more efficient at lower cadence than at higher cadence.

    Any comments or thoughts?
     
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  10. trevize1138

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    Here's where I'm at standing at 6' tall:

    * This past saturday I ran a 5K unshod at 7:00 pace and my average cadence was 187.
    * The day after I ran 18 miles on gravel in huarache sandals at 11:20 pace average and my average cadence was 176.
    * A couple days ago I did a 5 mile tempo run also on gravel with huarache sandals at 7:58 pace with 177 average cadence
    * Yesterday I did a 2 mile warmup and 8 mile run both unshod at 9:11 pace and 181 cadence.

    Two years ago I would consider a great 5 mile time to be 43:30 and struggled to get under 24:00 for a 5K and my legs would feel three feet thick after each of those attempts. My cadence at that time was closer to 160. At around 180 my legs feel relatively fresh even after a hard run and I'm able to maintain a lot faster pace for the same effort than at 160. The numbers just don't lie: 180 > 160.

    The issue I take with "Well, 180 is what they've observed with pro athletes so it's OK to have a lower cadence" is the evidence just doesn't support that. The difference in my own cadence between 11:20 and 7:00 pace is only 11spm. Even there a lot of that difference appears to be that my cadence is higher unshod than in huaraches. And I've been able to run a lot longer distance far more efficiently around 180 than I ever could at 160. The conclusion there seems to be if you're human then around 180 is the cadence you need to be efficient. If you're an elite athlete you can do 4:00-5:00 pace pretty easily at 180 cadence. If you're me you can do 11:00-7:00 pace at 180 cadence. The difference is my legs aren't as strong or trained as, say, Mo Farrah.

    And if you're sprinting that cadence hockey sticks *way* up. Usain Bolt is 6'5" and spins at 260 going flat out. 6' tall sprinters are approaching 290.

    All the evidence pretty clearly points to being around 180 is where you want to be if you want to be efficient. And I believe it's even more crucial to step at 180 or higher if you're not as strong or out-of-shape. It's like shifting a bike: lower gears require less muscle power. If you're trying to get into running you'll be better off spinning those legs quick.

    A lot of us trend toward a slower cadence because we simply don't run enough but we do walk a lot. Walking cadence is 100-120 so 160 is going to feel faster than that but as you progress if you're still stuck at 160 you're really missing out on efficiency. Your own body type and height will mean you'll be a bit higher or lower than 180 but I'm talking low 170s to upper 180s.

    Careful not to be fooled into thinking 160 is good because it feels "more natural" than 180. If you're used to scissor-kicking the high jump the Fosbury flop will feel "unnatural" at first, too. You can get used to any technique but that doesn't mean the technique you happen to be used to is ideal.
     
    #10 trevize1138, Jun 14, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2018
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  11. gueng

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    On a flat and easy surface, my step frequency is usually about 185/min.
    Body height 1,72 m.
     
  12. DNEchris

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    A lot depends on my footwear:
    Barefoot on road ~ 188
    Luna Leadville Pacers on gravel city trail ~ 184
    Luna Oso Flaco on gravel city trail ~ 180
    Merrell Vapor gloves or Altra Samson on gravel city trail (winter) ~ 176
    On technical trail, in any footwear, all bets are off!
    My pace is generally between 7.00 and 9.00 minutes/mile.

    I'm the same height as Gueng.
     
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  13. MissRandie

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    While I am still quite new to both barefooting and to running, I have studied my last two runs for the sake of science.

    I found that, for my stubby little legs, 192 spm feels just about perfect. I tested 180, and my feet felt sluggish and sticky. So I tapped out what felt the best, and 192 was born!

    For reference sake, I am 61.5 inches tall (156.2cm for the metric folk) with a barefoot inseam of 29.25 inches (74.5cm). So definitely not a lot of vertical leg to move.
     
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  14. Paul NL

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    Interesting discussion. I see some very different standpoints. I think that the optimal cadence also depends on the length of the leg. Lets assume there is a optimal angle of the legs versus hips and feet and amount of knee bend to prevent over striding. You than can calculate that a person with long legs will have a longer stride for the same (optimal) angles of the joints than a person with short legs. So if a person with long legs runs at the same speed as a person with short legs the longer person can have a lower cadence than the shorter person. If anyone likes math a lot, maybe she or he can calculate how much difference it actually makes?

    On a side note, having long legs does not automatically mean that you are tall and visa versa. So comparing Usain Bolt with a group of sprinter that are 12 cm shorter (5") does not mean much without knowing there leg length. In general it will be true, but you can easily have 10 cm difference in inseam (inner leg) length for 2 persons with the same height. (See the graph in this post: http://speedtheory.co.nz/the-difference-between-boys-girls-part-1/) By the way, according to the guardian (https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2009/aug/17/usain-bolt-100m-body-athletics) Usain has relative long legs and he is tall, meaning that he has very long legs.

    I believe that saying that everyone should run a 180 cadence is way over simplified. For example in this video from coach Ryan will show that slower runners (beginners) will have a lower cadence.

    Only after the pace go up you will be able to (after some training) have a 180 cadence.

    After reading all so far I come to the conclusion that to prevent an over stride, which is really the goal, you should aim for an higher cadence at the same speed. Thus forget the 180 number. Just try to move your legs faster, without increasing the speed. The value of the cadence will depend on your speed and the length of you legs. So if you are really average person maybe 180 is good for you, but for the 90% of all the other people it is probably a different number.
     
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  15. Tedlet

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    According to my running watch I generally seem to log a cadence of 195-200, but to be honest I don't tend to take much notice of it -I just run the way I'm comfortable...
     
  16. Gordon

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    Stronger muscles and tighter tendons means more efficient "springs" and a faster cadence. Better to work on springiness and let the cadence come naturally ...
     
  17. Bill B

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    How do you determine you different cadence?
     
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  18. macdiver

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    I average 180 to 185 but it varies based on pace and terrain. I rarely drop below 180 but frequently see 185 to 190 on gravel, chip seal, and trails. I have seen short bursts of a minute or two well above 190 approaching 200. I'm 5ft 5 inch for reference.
     
  19. trevize1138

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    I just use my Strava app. It just uses the vibration of the phone from my footsteps to measure cadence. I'm sure there are far more exact ways out there to do it but I don't think that's really important.
     
  20. Paul NL

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    I am using my wrist sport watch. Some, like the garmin fenix, can do this.
     

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