Is Cadence Underrated?

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    Just an observation…

    I wrapped up a segment with the Stride Academy last week, aborted only because I wanted to enter into my 1/2 Marathon Plan. I carried over the Shoe Cue workouts into my Foundation Runs and have been keeping an eye on my cadence during the foundation runs.

    During the foundation runs I have been placing emphasis on maintaining a brisk, constant cadence regardless of hills as long as I remain inside HR Zone II. I run a lot of short very steep hills on these runs and both power and pace vary widely although on average I am close to the workout objectives (pace based).

    I am struck by the highly correlated relationship between cadence and heart rate. Cadence is clearly a leading indicator of heart rate (in my opinion the best overall indicator of stress on the body).

    While both pace and power are also leading indicators of the load being placed on the body only cadence is completely under my control.

    Disclaimer: I am using the Garmin Chest Strap to gather power information. Other, more direct sensors for power running may change my opinion in the future…


    Hi Charles – your post piqued my interest, so I took a look at my data from my Stryd foot pod. I don’t really see any patterns between my cadence or pace, or power, nor with changing terrain- it’s basically a flat line with very little deviation (other than stopping at crosswalks etc).

    What I do note is that my cadence is noticeable lower on the treadmill than when I run outside.

    Based on this it would be very difficult for me to do anything with cadence as an indicator except to note that it’s probably ok and sufficiently efficient….


    Leyla Porteous

    Hi Charles,

    Cadence is absolutely in your control and an important part of overall running development. Matt did a great blog on this a while back and I extracted his thoughts on cadence for you to consider:

    “One final method of accelerating the process of becoming a more skillful runner is cadence manipulation. Each runner has a natural stride rate that tends to gradually increase with fitness and experience. As a general rule, it’s best not to interfere with this process, particularly if the interference involves forcing yourself to consciously think about your step rate. But there is a way to get a little practice at a slightly higher step rate that may soon be natural for you without turning your attentional focus inward, and that’s by running with a metronome set at 110 percent of your natural stride rate and matching your steps to the beat”

    For the full blog read more here:

    Schooling Your Stride


    My running coach teaches Pose method and is very big on aiming for a 180-185 bpm run. Before working with her, I’d run a 185 on an easy run and push 200 in a race. She educated me that elite marathoners rarely break 185, but they’re running way faster than me. So I started playing around with my cadence and pose a bit. I was able to do an interval workout where I was running mile repeats in Zone 4 and recovery in Z1 or Z2 while listening to a playlist with a heavy 180 bpm. I managed to stay on the beat the entire time with my cadence but yet still managed to get into my target HR, with my interval pace averaging about 2 min/mile faster than my recovery pace all by changing my fall angle.

    I totally didn’t believe her that I could raise my HR without raising my cadence, but that trial run proved it to me.

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