Running speed

Discussion in 'Barefoot & Minimalist Running' started by The Mole, Jul 3, 2020.

  1. The Mole

    The Mole Barefooters

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    Hello Peeps,

    Sorry but I’ve got another question for you all !

    What is the average speed of a barefoot runner...? I know everybody is different but i find it really hard to get lower than 6.5kph without it effecting my cadence and making it drop below 180 but i was thinking that if i could run slower sometimes i could run for longer and maybe more relaxed.

    Your thoughts would be much appreciated

    Chris
     
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  2. Barefoot TJ

    Barefoot TJ Administrator
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    I was a very slow runner. My best was 9:30 minute mile, but I could literally run for more than 18 miles without stopping (since I carried water).
     
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  3. The Mole

    The Mole Barefooters

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    My sister in-law is like that, runs for ever but nice and slow.... i like the way that barefoot/minimalist running is all about the running and not the speed and if you win or not !!!!
     
  4. Janne

    Janne Barefooters

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    I like knowing that it is ok to be slow. Giving up the stress to be fast allows us to listen to what the body is telling. That is one skill that many recreational runners miss.
    There is also that slow is relative to your capacity. A slow session for an elite marathon runner would be a 3h marathon pace :rolleyes:o_O
    About your cadence, I share 2 links that illustrate the point. My experience is that it takes practice and it is more getting the balance between pushing forward by extending your hips and launching your legs forward by flexing your hip.
    Chi-running:
    Slow running . The slow runner there has a PB under 3h
     
  5. The Mole

    The Mole Barefooters

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    Thanks for that Janne !!
     
  6. Gordon

    Gordon Barefooters

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    There's nothing wrong with letting your cadence drop below 180 if you're running slowly. That number came from an observation that elite runners tend to be near that cadence. Six minute miles is slow if you're elite. I don't worry if mine drops to 170 or so when I'm sauntering along.
     
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  7. Mr. Muchacho

    Mr. Muchacho Barefooters

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    I love that slow jogging video! It's an interesting challenge to run at a 14-15 minute per mile pace.
     
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  8. macdiver

    macdiver Barefooters
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    Are you saying that when you run faster than 6.5 kph then your cadance drops below 180 or are you saying when you run slower than 6.5 kph your cadance fall below 180?

    I find the slower I run the lower my cadance and the faster I run the higher my cadance. That said my range is from like 170 steps per minute at 13 min / mile (about 6.5 kph) to 195 at 7 min / mile (14 kph). I really don't run slower that 13 min / mile. I can walk briskly at 15 min / mile.
     
  9. Gordon

    Gordon Barefooters

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    This is what he said in the OP. I switch to walking at 7kph unless I'm specifically trying to warm up or cool down. I suppose the benefit of running that slowly would be to lower impact forces and still get some specific training stimulus.
     
  10. trevize1138

    trevize1138 Barefooters
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    I'd be a bit cautious with dismissing cadence like that. My 5k pace is just under 7:00/mile. Mo Farah's 5k pace is just above 4:00/mile. But our respective cadences at that distance are 186 and 175. My cadence at 11:00/mile (run all day long pace) is closer to 175. As for height having anything to do with it I'm two inches taller than 5'9" Farah.

    Human legs are optimal for long distances at right around 180. And the quicker you move your legs the more efficient you'll be. The main difference between me and Farah is I'm not at all a world-class elite runner. His legs are more capable and better trained than mine by a huge margin. When he's doing just over 4:00 pace for a 5k he's running that distance as fast and efficiently as he can and the same is true of me at 7:00 pace. Despite me being nearly half as fast my cadence is 10spm higher. That's because I'm making up for my legs not being as strong or well conditioned as his.

    But we're both human beings so when trying to run our best at any speed we'll be right around 180. Going down to 170 may not look like much on paper but in practice I've felt a huge difference in turning my feet over that slow. That usually means my muscles start to feel pretty heavy after 8 miles or so. At just 5spm more my legs feel fresh at 8 miles or even 15 miles.

    For the last 3 miles of the 50 mile ultra I did in September I was beyond tired and found that even walking was too draining. Instead, I found I could keep going at about 13:00 pace while also keeping about a 175 cadence. It felt sorta like I was running in place and taking way more steps than I logically thought I should but my energy levels remained constant and that was the proof right there.

    When in doubt spin your feet faster not slower. You've got to divorce the two metrics of pace and cadence. The only time cadence should drop significantly is when you're walking. If you're sprinting it jacks way up to the mid-upper 200s (right around 265 when I do 100m dash repeats).
     
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  11. trevize1138

    trevize1138 Barefooters
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    Here's a new challenge for you: step at 180 and go as slow as you can. See if you can do 180 at a pace slower than walking. When running long distance cadence and pace need to be all but divorced from each other. For reference my cadence at 11:00/mile is around 175. My cadence at just under 7:00/mile is around 185. A huge difference in pace but comparatively little difference in cadence. Right around 180 is optimal for human legs over long distance. Your speed is determined by your fitness, conditioning and effort not your cadence.

    The only exception is when you're sprinting all-out and then your cadence should be closer to 270. On the other end if you're walking that's around 120. But for all paced running it's right around 180. If anything you're better off going a bit above 180 than below. The disadvantages to a too-slow cadence are far worse than the disadvantages to a too-fast cadence.

    If you're new to all of this it's quite common to find running close to 180 cadence at slower speeds difficult. When you were an infant you learned how to walk at 120spm. When you were a toddler you learned to sprint at 270spm. Walking and sprinting are basic skills. Running is an advanced skill most of us didn't bother trying to learn until we were adults. So at first you end up not knowing which of the two basic skills to emulate. Too much like walking and you're over-striding with a too slow cadence being hugely inefficient and inviting injury. Too much like sprinting and you get tired too fast.

    All the speeds in-between the two end up being a gradient on all the behaviors including cadence which may swing wildly from as low as 150 when going slow and nearly 200 when going faster. You've got to break the habit of that lock-step relationship between speed and cadence. You've got to start learning how to run rather than gradually trending toward walking on the low end and gradually trending toward sprinting on the high end. Running is a 3rd, totally unique movement that's neither of those extremes.

    So for now really explore the slow side of running with quick feet. Make that your main challenge. Do some running-in-pace drills to get a feel for that. If you can run with 180spm at 0mph then 180spm at 4mph is certainly possible.

    And doing the vast majority of your runs slow is where all the good stuff starts happening! Leave fast running for the rare speed workouts and races. Where you live is easy, slow and most importantly enjoyable. You create a positive feedback loop where your runs are always enjoyable. Therefore you look forward to them. You don't need motivation to go running you instead need discipline to stop.
     
    #11 trevize1138, Jul 8, 2020
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2020
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  12. BareFootBC

    BareFootBC Barefooters
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    You guys are exhausting me...barefoot in the hammock is having a huge appeal right now.
     
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  13. The Mole

    The Mole Barefooters

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    My head just exploded .. wow thanks trevize..... I’m gunna have to read that a few times and let it sink in... I’m not the
    Brightest button in the box... sorry I said 6.5kph I meant 6.5mph...
    I went out on Monday evening and ran 6k in 28.5 minutes at about 183 cadence average and it felt great... all flat on tarmac so not that impressive but as I said felt good.. lower calf’s areFeeling it now though !!! Did you look at my running form that I posted ? I’d really appreciate your feedback ....
    Chris
     
  14. Gordon

    Gordon Barefooters

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    Rather than listen to me, listen to someone who actually knows what he's talking about... "There is nothing special about 180. It comes from work back in the day when Jack Daniels counted stride rates during competition of elites and found that they all had a stride rate of over 180."

    Edit to add: "Where we go wrong is in the logic that the stride rate increase is the key. No, it’s not. It’s the elimination of the overstriding. Using the cue to increase stride rate is a way for coaches/runners to reduce the heel striking overstride."

    https://www.scienceofrunning.com/2010/11/speed-stride-length-x-stride-frequency.html?v=47e5dceea252
    https://www.scienceofrunning.com/2011/02/180-isnt-magic-number-stride-rate-and.html?v=47e5dceea252
     
    #14 Gordon, Jul 8, 2020
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2020
  15. Gordon

    Gordon Barefooters

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    I can do that running backwards. How do we plug a negative speed into the equation?
     
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  16. trevize1138

    trevize1138 Barefooters
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    Over-striding and a too-slow cadence are two sides of the same coin. Cadence is an excellent indicator. Most people I know who used to push a 160-170 cadence were over-striding and the cadence was an excellent number pointing to that. Smoke from the fire.

    What I'd say is experiment thoroughly. If you go for a single run or even just a handfull of runs at a higher cadence than normal it's likely going to feel awkward and wrong. Stick with it, get used to it and then see how the metrics come out in terms of pace, distance, HR. Still not good? Back off on the cadence a bit and compare.

    If all you're doing is getting your cadence up a bit and figuring "good enough" without testing the high end you're not really certain.
     
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  17. trevize1138

    trevize1138 Barefooters
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    Ever tried backward sprints? :) We did those in HS XC and track and did them uphill, even. You discover thigh muscles you never knew you had! And what better way to prove to yourself the point that you can move without reaching ahead of you because that's almost impossible running backward.
     
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  18. trevize1138

    trevize1138 Barefooters
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    I'll look for the video you posted. I'm not a big believer in videos telling much of anything, though. Usually when I see someone post a "form check" video the comments are all over the place and I cringe thinking about how confused the poster must be with one person saying "you're heel-striking" and someone else saying "no, that's fine" and on and on.

    The biggest indicator to you of how you're doing are those bare feet on tarmac. Blisters on the forefoot pads? You're over-striding and forcing a forefoot strike because if you didn't your heels would slam down hard so get your feet under you and stop reaching. Blisters on the toe pads? You're pawing back at the ground excessively, launching yourself too harshly and that sets you up for an equal-opposite harsh landing so you're wasting effort both on takeoff and landing. So stop pawing back and just lift your feet quick off the ground. Feet overall too tender to continue after 4 miles or so? You're not over-striding or pawing back quite as bad as you used to but there's still too much of that going on and you're scrubbing speed and effort on the ground.

    As for that calf pain some of it is normal and to be expected but be very careful here: all of us have fallen for a very common over-correction. https://www.thebarefootrunners.org/entries/stop-worrying-about-the-heel-strike.1273/
     
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  19. Gordon

    Gordon Barefooters

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    Only above some minimum speed. I've seen people "running" 20 minute miles. Quick cadence, 18 inch steps. If they dropped their cadence from 180 to 150, their step would have to increase to something like 21 inches. There's little impact and little over stride at the lower cadence. No smoke, no fire, but no speed or efficiency either.

    The big thing to understand is that cadence is an output of the system, not an input. Do the right things and cadence increases. It's also possible to do wrong things and increase cadence. Examples are to pick your feet up quickly or to intentionally shorten your stride. Cadence is only useful in that if it's too low, it tells you you're doing something wrong. The converse is not true. A high cadence is not a guarantee that you're running well. All it does is indicate that you're not over striding. It's still possible to run badly, and by badly I really mean inefficiently, without over striding. Thinking that you run well because your cadence is 180 is like thinking that you're not speeding because you're holding the speedometer needle in your car at 55 with a pair of pliers. You might be right, you might be wrong, but there's no way to tell without finding a different indicator.
     
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  20. Gordon

    Gordon Barefooters

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    It's a good drill. And a good image. It doesn't match reality. You reach behind yourself when you run backwards. You can not move forward in a steady state without reaching in front of yourself and landing in front of your center of mass. It's physically impossible. If you were to land exactly under your COM with each stride, you would be running in place. Leaning changes nothing other than to force you to instinctively reach forward to prevent facial damage. The trick, as always, is to balance all of the variables to get the most elegant solution.
     
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