Elite Trainer Alfie Wren reveals the quick fix that can make you, well, quick.
If you are a keen runner, you will have spent many hours pacing the pavements, increasing distance and maybe frequency, but infrequently pushing speed. However, when you step up to your Saturday park run seeking a PB, a different approach to your training is required. The quickest way to leaving your friends in your dust? Increase your cadence.
Cadence is a simple term used to define the number of times your foot strikes the floor per minute (spm) whilst running. There are many factors that play a part in an individual’s cadence and many good reasons for trying to increase it. Improving your cadence will help your efficiency and speed as well as reducing ground contact time (gct) which has been shown to put less force through the knees and hips, helping to lower your injury risk.
Try these three steps out and watch your time tumble.
Step One: Find Your Current Optimal Cadence.
Knowledge is power when it comes to running a PB. To get a baseline of how fast you should be running, do 3km as fast as you can. Record your time and average cadence. This should then act as your target speed in km/min and your target cadence in spm for your intervals – this is something you should gradually aim to mimic over longer distances.
Step Two: Optimise Technique
There are many ways of doing this but my number one tip is to improve your heel recovery (kicking your heels towards your glutes). This will help improve cadence and stride length. It forces a faster turnover through the swing phase of your stride, as well as encouraging a higher knee drive, which helps open the hips and encourages a mid-foot strike.
Step Three: Train for Speed
Introduce 1min intervals of speed training during your weekly long run where you run at your optimal cadence. Focus on increasing leg turnover and progressively increase the time you run at this speed over the coming weeks to allow your body to adapt to the changes. Fairly soon you will be running further, faster and with no extra effort, but a reduced risk of injury. All that’s left to do is hit the road.