What Is Cadence and Why Does It Matter when Running?

A significant number of runners always hit a plateau, and the answer is usually Cadence – the runner needs to work on their Cadence. If your stride rate isn’t right, you won’t get very far without messing it up.

Cadence is your stride rate, the number of steps a runner takes per minute. Different people have different styles, and those differences have meanings. A short stride length means a faster stride rate and a running style that is swifter – of superior speed and fleetness.

A Low Cadence

A low cadence means you have a long stride. It’s ungainly, and those runners lock knees and slam heels and are generally sloppy and bouncy, which slows them down – and others near them.

It puts extra and unnecessary pressure on your muscles and leaves them open to injury.

Rhythmical Pattern

A cadence is a rhythmical pattern that indicates the end of a musical phrase.

It was first applied to music and musicians.

Let’s say there were two musicians who did not have to play different musical instruments but did have to play different sections of the music at the same time; you could enjoy the syncopation of the two cadences.

Cadence is not unlike the pattern of rhythm. That indicates the end of a phrase. The syncopation of the two cadences.

But nowadays, Cadence refers to many things and, on this occasion, it relates to running.

Running is Beautiful – Chariots of Fire

Running is a beautiful thing, and anyone who has had the privilege of watching that movie ‘Chariots of Fire’ knows what I mean. It’s simple; it comprises determination and feet.

It can become very intense and emotionally aggressive, or it can be graceful and serene, peaceful, and elegant.

Put the two together, and you have light and dark, tears and laughter, delicate and harsh while the story of the run is unveiled.

Different Stride Rates

When you see a group of people – on this occasion, it was men – all running together. They are running the same route, but they have one of two different running styles – different stride rates.

As they reach a corner to turn, or as they approach the end of the race, their outlines seem to be more exact, and different cadences are highlighted.

It’s almost as if you were watching a ballet where the dancers are close together and doing the same step – but not quite – they’re doing the same action in a different way – Cadence.


We look at it and marvel at the simplistic beauty of it all – to such an extent where we no longer see the technique – if we ever did in the beginning. The method is Cadence.

The number of steps a runner takes per minute – that’s Cadence. It’s a metric thing as we measure running form, which is quite crucial for several reasons.

As mentioned above, there is a beauty that lies in observing. The shorter your stride length, and the faster your stride rate, the quicker and more enhanced is your style when you run.

Well Styled Cadence

People with a well-styled Cadence easily overshadow the people with a low Cadence.

That long stride looks ungainly, and, because of their overstride, they smack their heels onto the ground every time and flail on clumsily, floundering on each step.

They slow down not only themselves but also those around them because they’re not careful.

Unnecessary Pressure

They put so much unnecessary pressure on their muscles and bones and cause damage to themselves like a masochist.

There is no beauty there as it lies in both the style and the technique together. Therefore, the procedure distorts the Cadence and loses its loveliness.


Whist we have music, ballet, sequence, style, and timing in our heads, maybe we are thinking about a metronome to correct the cadences.

That cannot help because now we are talking about the stride rate (where a metronome is unrelenting and thus – useful). We’re also discussing the technique with which the Cadence is executed.

A long and sloppy stride rate and length cannot be cured with a metronome.

180 Steps Per Minute

It’s not good enough to produce the required 180 steps per minute; you must make them with the right style, the proper running stride – and grace.

This is because we must focus on running faster, which means our technique must be superior. So, the method is the focus – it’s all about style and Cadence.

Short Stride Lengths

Short Stride Lengths and fast stride rates are the best Cadences, and the result is that you’re in there with a chance of winning or finishing well.

Conversely, if it’s just you, then you’ll have an excellent run and be the better for it. A low cadence gives you a lousy gait and will always be a terrible handicap that you need to deal with before you stand a real chance of getting anywhere.

How Often Should One Run Per Week?

Some runners will run every day, but those elite runners recommend that every other day is the best for the best results. In other words, you are running and working out between three to four days per week.

How To Improve Your Cadence

First, find a test track that is suitable for you. It should contain a long flat section.

Warm-up properly

You are finding the fastest time you can sustain in eight minutes.

Keep records of the different results of all your tests.

Check Where Each Foot Lands

When you increase your Cadence, you’re moving your feet faster, but you’re also changing where your foot lands. Give attention to that because it alters your centre of gravity.

The foot must land beneath you. That is underneath you and not in front of your hips.

Neatens Your Style

This automatically shortens your stride length, and it neatens your style, meaning you use all your energy in the right way and keep your centre of gravity. Your body is all set on moving faster.

Another bonus is that your feet are not hitting the ground so hard, so you’re not wasting your energy.

Remember, the more steps per minute that you take, the less time you spend up in the air, thus guaranteeing a softer impact on landing.

How Fast Should You Be Running?

If you want to know how fast you should be running, first we ask is this competition or general enjoyment.

Tips to Getting it Right

Here is something to look at and consider when you’re running your tests and making notes regarding improving your Cadence:

Total distance run (to the nearest 10m)

Average heart rate during the test

Maximum heart rate during the test

Each 400m split time

Your heart rate at the end of each 400m

Perceived exertion on a scale of 1 to 10

Where you ran the test

Weather conditions

Ultimate Cadence

Your ultimate Cadence depends very much on your height, weight, running ability, and determination to get things right.

Other Tips to Consider:

Run to a beat whereby in the rhythm, one beat equals one step.

Make smaller steps, and speed will follow naturally after your cadence increases – practice this on a treadmill – it helps.

If you’re running for a marathon, you need to do the least number of miles you can but enough so that your training is comprehensive – you want to win, not exhaust yourself in your workouts.

If you run marathons, etc., track your progress in real-time with a fitness app.

Gear up your workouts for faster turnover, so train your muscles to move quicker.

All Runners of any type – both beginners and advanced – will benefit from working on their Cadence. A right cadence makes a better runner. One that doesn’t attract injuries.

Cadence Applies to Every Runner

So now you know what Cadence is and why it matters; it is truly essential to know that whether you are an elite runner or someone that wants to pursue running for a while, get fit, and have a great pastime; Cadence applies to every runner.

By getting each foot to land perfectly underneath you – maybe ‘pace’ is ‘grace’!


Improves your running stride by shortening it, which makes you faster.

Maintains your center of gravity and improves your balance.

Is significant enough to make you accident-free.

Makes you faster and more energy-efficient.

Improves your style, so it turns you from a casual runner into one who takes it more seriously and trains and runs better and is healthier because of it.

Is the answer to giving you a faster stride rate and a superior technique.

Will make you ‘run to the rhythm.’

Ann Roberts


Recent Posts