Upping the efficiency of your pace

2013-12-14 00:00

IN previous articles I indicated the link between physiological and psychological attributes in training towards any distance race, and how style and efficiency at race pace become paramount for the final preparation period.

This analysis brought us back full circle to finding our most efficient combination of stride length and cadence (the number of times one specific foot touches the ground per minute).

Any keen cyclist will tell you that there is a pedalling cadence that seems more comfortable for them than any other.

Interestingly the cadence of most average cyclists is about 85, which is similar to many runners.

The optimum cadence for runners is often quoted as being between 88 and 92 times per minute. The faster the cadence the shorter the stride needs be for any set pace, and of course the less the force per stride.

Runners often say they “aren’t talented”, but boast that they can maintain a five or six-minute kilometre forever. What they are actually telling you is that they have tended to train at a single pace, and have never practiced or considered quality sessions or worked on style and efficiency. It is easier to use a metronome, set to the required tempo, and then to focus on getting the correct rhythm for leg movement. Even that can be hard for those of us who have the skill to crush our partner’s toes in a waltz.

By increasing the cadence to within the normal range, your running becomes more efficient. Over a few sessions a drop in heart rate will be seen, despite running the same speed and cadence.

Training cadence is best done on a track, flat field with short grass, or a car park. Commence with 15 minutes of warming up and a few acceleration runs. Start to get the rhythm by running on the spot or moving gradually forward with that number of steps per minute. If your cadence has been too low you will immediately feel the difference.

Initially do a series of repeats over 40 metres and as you clock into the rhythm, extend the distance to 300 metres or 400 metres.

It’s true that the unlearning of bad style and relearning of good style and cadence can be frustrating, but the benefits will come through every future stride made to move you forward, and that will more than compensate for the effort.

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