As humans, we are wired to run. It’s in our DNA — and so is the desire to improve. To run better, we traditionally focus on running duration, length and intensity. These key performance indicators serve as the stock of any good training program.
But we often overlook cadence and the feedback it provides. Unlocking and understanding this matrix can significantly enhance your running — and make you faster, stronger and fitter.
Cadence, also known as stride rate, is the number of times your feet touch the ground per minute on a run. The no-frills way to get an estimate of your cadence is to count the number of times your right foot touches the ground in 15 seconds during a run then multiply it by 2 (to account for both feet) and then again by 4 (for the number of 15-second segments in a minute).
Luckily, Under Armour has designed the UA SpeedForm® Gemini 2 Record Equipped running shoe with the capability to record your cadence for you while you run — no math required.
On a typical run, your cadence varies. As you speed up or slow down, so does your stride rate. However, just like a sports car, you run best at a certain speed and cadence. Knowing your ideal cadence is important, and once you begin to track it, you can begin to improve it.
Let’s look at two easy, highly effective ways to improve your cadence — and your running overall.
Strides are spurts of faster running held for about 20 seconds. Performed at the end of your run, strides should be done at an effort that’s 80% of your maximum sprinting ability. Give yourself roughly 2 minutes to recover from each stride, with easy walking or running as desired, then repeat. Aim for 3–6 repetitions each session. If you’re running 5 days or more a week, do 2–3 strides sessions a week; do 1–2 if you run less.
Initially, your cadence should be about 10–20 strides per minute faster than your normal running cadence. As you adapt and get stronger, your cadence should improve on your strides as well as your daily runs.
Practicing strides continually propels your muscles to output more force with each step during those faster spurts. This signals the body to enhance the power your leg muscles are capable of producing because you have been consistently and progressively making greater demands on them. In turn, this will impact your daily runs because that added strength will make it relatively easier to hold paces that were once very challenging.
2. Jump Rope
Jumping rope — the same kind you did on the elementary school playground — can also positively impact your cadence.
Like strides, you can integrate jumping rope 2–3 times per week for 20-second intervals after your run. Start with 3 sets, and add one more each week, working up to 10 per session. Rest for 40 seconds between intervals, and make sure to jump as fast and powerfully as you can. You want to minimize the contact time of your feet on the ground each time you jump.
Consistently jumping rope will increase the force application your leg muscles are capable of producing, which will enhance your runs. As you get stronger, you’ll be able to jump more times during those 20 seconds.
Ideally, you would want to alternate the days you perform strides and jump rope. But if your schedule doesn’t permit this, do strides first and then jump rope.
Overall Increased Cadence
As you improve your leg strength with these drills, you’ll see an increase in your average running cadence. Shortening the contact time of each foot strike on the ground increases your running efficiency and speed. And you’ll enjoy the snowball effect of fitness: The fitter you get, the fitter you will continue to get, provided you stay consistent with your workouts.
With simple, impactful drills and your UA SpeedForm® Gemini 2 Record Equipped running shoes, you can measure, track and feel the effects of faster, stronger and fitter running. You’ll notice a substantial improvement in the quality of your running abilities — and so will your competition!
Originally appeared on Under Armour.