When I ask a new client if there’s anything they’ve been trying to do with their running form, the most common answer is, “I’ve been working on my cadence,” or “I keep my stride rate at 180,” or something along those lines. I tell them not to worry about that any more.
This usually surprises them, especially if they were aiming for a high cadence to relieve knee pain or stop overstriding and heelstriking. Sports medicine doctors and PTs often give that advice because research has demonstrated it helps.
Doctors and PTs say that because they don’t know any other way to help you with your overstriding, heelstriking, or pain. They’re doing the best they can, but they’re wrong and unfortunately you pay a price.
The same is true if you’re aiming for 180 to improve your performance.
In the 36 years since running coach Jack Daniels first observed that runners in the Olympics generally had a cadence of 180, a fair amount of research has been done into the relationship between cadence and performance. It paints a much more nuanced picture.
You absolutely can improve your gait to stop heelstriking and excessively overstriding by means other than (and better than) increasing your stride rate. And trying to keep a stride rate of 180 like a machine no matter your speed or the conditions will hurt–not help–your performance.
I give you the full story in this video:
To reduce your overstriding and heelstriking while allowing your cadence to naturally optimize, get these lessons. They’re also very helpful with knee pain, which is why you’ll find them at the bottom of a post on runner’s knee:Runner’s Knee Blog Post and Free Lessons
To improve your ability to naturally optimize your cadence for better performance, this is the lesson you want. It’s called Perfecting Your Footstrike, and does also help with heelstriking and overstriding as well.Perfecting Your Footstrike Description and Free Lesson
And finally, to learn more about the core action in running, check out these videos.
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Jae Gruenke, GCFP, is a running technique expert and Feldenkrais Practitioner. Known as a “running form guru,” she is the Founder and CEO of The Balanced Runner™ in New York City and The Balanced Runner UK. She has helped runners from beginner to Olympian improve their form to become pain-free, economical, and fast.