We talked a lot about running form and optimizing your running and different running routines and trying to become a better runner here on this channel. But one of the most important things you may think about is, what is an optimal running cadence or is there an optimal running cadence? Well, I’m Jesse Funk and on today’s episode of Runner’s High, I’m going to give you my tips on what exactly that optimal running cadence is.
Depending on where you look, you’ll see different suggestions about running cadence. Some people will say 180 or 90 and I’ve mentioned those things before on this channel. Now, the 90 is 90 revolutions per minute and we’re talking about one leg. This is a good ballpark to go by. This is something I picked up from Barb Lindquist who is a former pro triathlete.
She was in the Olympics in 2004. I had the privilege of knowing her and going to some clinics with her. So, this is something she teaches to swimmers and runners that need to work on their form to become better runners. She kind of uses it almost as a Bible, the 90. And it actually comes from her running coach, Bobby McGee.
But the truth is that the data says something a little bit more delicate than that. It’s not just 90, there’s more to it. One of Barb’s athletes and my friend, Dr. Todd Buckingham, actually explains the research he did back in 2017 for his Ph.D., when we went to age group national, so the national championship for triathlon. He gathered all this data from all these people’s Garmins and put it together for his dissertation.
What he found was that it actually didn’t matter as much where your cadence was but that your stride length was the biggest indicator of your speed. So, cadence is important. There’s some kind of minor correlation there but it is not the whole show. It actually has a bit to do with stride length, which makes sense, right? The longer you stride, the faster you’re going.
Now, it doesn’t mean you need to go out front and like stick your foot way out front, you’re actually going to be breaking at that point. I talked about running form in a lot of different episodes, but the people to look out for are my interviews on the Smart Athlete Podcast. At the end of this video, I’m going to link to Todd Episode Three. He also has another episode but Episode Three where we talk about his research. Another one you might want to listen to is going to be Run the Data with Marco Nicoli.
He did some research for me with his athletes in ground contact time has more to tell about how to become a better runner than just simply cadence. Cadence plays a part in that but is not the only thing. So, know that 90 counting one leg starting at zero is a good indicator of kind of where you should be in the ballpark, but it isn’t the whole story.
So, as those episodes come up, check those out for me, Episode Three with Todd that’s going to talk about his research, and then Marco, his research as well on the other side of me. I’ll see you next time on the next episode of Runner’s High.