The stepping stone podcast - cadence vs stride length

I ran to the stepping stone podcast today for the first time and was puzzled by the cadence Laura wanted me to run. Seemed veeeery slow in the beginning and as a result my strides became way too long. It almost felt like slow motion... It wasn't until the last 5 minutes that the beat was natural for me to follow and my stride length was normalised.

Does anybody know if it makes sense for me to practice running at a lower cadence than I normally do? I was under the impression that I should practice running at a higher cadence to improve speed, but I could be wrong. Please help me out here, thanks :-)

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24 Replies

  • Cadence and speed aren't necessarily related. The theory behind the magic '180' cadence was from an observation by some guy who noticed that elite marathoners had _at least_ a cadence of 180. As these things do, it is now become a magic number.

    From reading around, a major benefit of a higher cadence is that your feet tend to naturally land underneath your hips, which is GOOD thing, but if you are having to lengthen your stride significantly so you are heel-striking further forward than your central mass then that is a very BAD thing :-).

    I think that increasing cadence is a good thing in general, and yes, there will be a point where the cadence is the constraint on speed so increasing cadence is the only way to get faster.

    But, and it is a big but (shush you children laughing at my 'big butT'), this is all theory and there is also a large body of theory that says running science is a load of rubbish and you should just run in a way that works for you :-).

    As another data point, my slow runs are around 150, but I did some cadence-increasing runs recently, up to about 175 and somewhere around 160-165 felt 'natural'.

    In other words, who knows :-).

  • Still at bit confused. From what I understand you agree with me, that running at a lower cadence than my natural cadence does not make sense? Think I'll skip the stepping stone podcast and try to up my cadence instead by choosing some music with at a faster beat.

  • I was a bit rambly in that reply.

    I agree, running at a cadence that feels 'too slow' doesn't have much benefit. If your cadence was so fast that you couldn't run a 'slow recovery' run then it might make sense to slow it down, but I don't think that is what you are saying.

    So yeah, zip zippy zip zip on those feet :-)

  • Thanks :-)

  • I found ALL of the music on the NHS C25K podcasts to be far too slow for me -- I am talking slow in terms of cadence ,rather than pace. And I find elsewhere (Youtube), much so-called running/jogging music to have a cadence around 120 BPM. I walk with a cadence of around 120. But then again , I am well known for my short legs!! :)

  • I was thinking exactly that - the shorter the legs, the higher the cadence is needed to achieve the same speed. 🏃👍

  • I was born with Duck's Disease - have had it all my life!!! :)

  • Does that make you slightly 'quackers' ? Sorry, could not resist :)

  • Stepping Stone is a weird one.

    If you look at links on that subject, there are a lot of comments about it. i found it most odd and referred to having to do a sort of dance to get my pace correct. I did it shortly after Graduation and found it most peculiar! I did it three times, then have not used it since!

    Like yatesco , My natural, comfortable pace seems to be 160, up to and nearly always,165. I also agree with him, when he says, run at the pace you feel most natural with. You will get speedier, and the distance will follow. If anyone at all, had said I would ever, without artificial aid, be covering 6 K in 36 minute, I would have laughed out aloud! Yet... that is exactly what I did, as you know, on my Tuesday run!

    Keep exploring and keep trying out new things :) As Emerson said, " All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make, the better "!

  • I have absolutely no idea, focus on your aim is my suggestion!!

  • I found exactly the same with that podcast, too slow for my little legs! It felt like a step backwards from the graduation runs to me, so I've just gone back to the W9 runs to keep me ticking over and I'll try and increase speed very slowly instead I think.

    Have you downloaded the speed and stamina podcasts? I might give them a try in a few weeks...

  • I have been away on vacation and haven't seen you comment until now. I haven't tried the two other podcasts yet but definitely will soon.

  • I did "stepping stone" a couple of times immediately after graduation and found it OK. Probably because I was slower then. I think I'll revisit it this week and see what it's like. I don't know whether there are any advantages to running at a slower cadence than is natural, but anything that shakes you up is probably good!

  • I have been away on vacation and haven't seen your comment until now.

    I think you are right about the need to shake up one's runs. It just felt soooo awkward! But I might give it another chance in a week or two.

  • They are good practice, and the changes in cadence are in there to help strengthen legs. It's not always fast runs which make you fast, if you get my drift. If you go trail running your legs have to do all sorts of speeds to negotiate the topography, quick bits, stagger bits, sudden stops. These are very good practice

  • I agree with misswobble.

    Furthermore running at a slower tempo gives you time to focus on your technique – for example the correct recovery of the back leg, which a lot of amateur runners (including me) tend to "drag"...

  • I have been away on vacation and haven't seen your comment until now.

    I have a 5k trail run coming up in September. I'll will have to give the podcast another try then.

  • I've never actually ran to the C25K+ podcasts themselves, but have used their structure and run at my own speeds & cadence. I've found that very useful. So for instance, the Speed podcast is simply an interval session of 1 min sprints (or 'efforts') with 1 min recovery jogs in between. Those 1 min efforts I've done at all sorts of speeds: at first at constant speed each rep (eg 14 km/h) but more recently I do a pyramid session, where each rep gets a bit faster, then a bit slower.

    The experiences of several on here shows that one size definitely doesn't fit all :-)

    Hope that helps.

  • I have been away on vacation and haven't seen your comment until now.

    You are right - one size does not fit all, we are all different runners and need to find our own way. And perhaps I should do just that - download music with a cadence that starts me off at my natural cadence and then builds up... that would make so much more sense to me.

  • You are not alone! I was exactly like you - I found the beat FAR too slow. Stepping Stones suits some people and not others. I found the speed podcast marginally better although am not a fan of running to a strict beat because it can make you quite tense. So, for now, I'd recommend just letting your feet spin round at their own pace.

  • I'd agree, TT. When I did the chi running workshop the teacher got us to run at about 175 beats per minute. That felt a tad fast for me - but the 150 beats on the C25K+ podcasts feels too slow. Also, I get a bit anxious about the numbers - so I'd go for whatever feels comfortable.

  • I have been away on vacation and haven't seen your comment until now.

    I do usually go for whatever feels comfortable, but you know, when Laura - the Running Goddess of my life - tells me to run at specific cadences, I really want to do what she says, she is usually right.

  • I have been away on vacation and haven't seen your comment until now.

    I'm glad I am not alone there :-)

    Most of the time I do run at my own cadence - it was actually the first time I tried to run at a specific cadence and generally I agree that running should be comfortable and enjoyable. I'm just like - when Laura gives me advice, I listen :-)

  • I like to mix it up. I just think they are good for keeping your legs guessing. Don't let them get into a rut. Slow, slow, quick, quick slow. LOL

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