I’ve been working on my cadence for the past several months after conversations with several runners and some well known trail runners. All of them said the same thing – keeping your cadence high helps your running in many ways. The most important is the lower load or force of impact from keeping steps shorter.
However, there’s also added benefits that I’ve found from taking my cadence up to around 170 steps per minute on the trails. One of these is that I am less prone to falling or sprains. The falling is addressed by the shorter steps – I still wobble on rocks or get off balance tripping on a root, but I’m much less likely to go down if I’m taking shorter strides at a higher rate as my center of mass is not all out of whack.
The same goes for sprains, keeping myself more centered means that I can recover or take weight off the afflicted foot quickly. While it hasn’t cut me down to zero issues, I’ve noticed an improvement.
So, when I came across the mention of this app for training your run cadence I was quite interested:
Runcadence performs a simple assessment to helps users determine their unique cadence in addition to having a metronome for retraining purposes. Based on the assessment it automatically calculates increases in step rate values of 5%, 7.5% and 10% consistent with the body of literature on this topic.
The metronome works as an ‘external cue’, we focus on the beat and run in time with it. Step rate increases and as long as our speed remains constant our stride length reduces. This reduction in stride length helps to reduce load on the hip, knee and shin (Heiderscheit et al. 2011, Hobara et al. 2012). Recent evidence suggests it may also reduce peak load on the achilles (Lyght et al. 2016) and plantar fascia (Wellenkotter et al. 2014).
It looks like a great feedback tool, if you run with your phone, to let you know how you can adjust your cadence and is likely less biased than remembering to count yourself on training runs!
I tested Runcadence this week and I have to say I was impressed. It feels like it’s been designed by runners. The metronome is responsive but not excessively so. You can slow to cross a road, or as I did on my run, dodge a stray toddler and the metronome wont kick in. If your cadence remains low for some time though the beat will start and remain on until you hit your target step rate.
So far, so good on the app in use…
One important point to consider is that we want speed to remain constant for the step rate change to alter stride length. At present the app doesn’t monitor speed (I’m told the developers are already working on this!) so it may work best alongside a GPS watch or an alternative method of maintaining a set pace. New Gait Re-training App: Runcadence | RunningPhysio
My only complaint right now is that the app is Apple (IOS) only (Andriod user here), but I’m sure many of you use iPhones and would want to check this out.
When you go out for a run and put this to use, let me know how you like it – I’m going to look around for something similar in the Android ecosystem.
The app costs $4.99 in the Apple App Store at the time of publishing this article.