Ask a runner if they’d like to run faster and most will answer with a resounding, ‘yes’. Shaving a few minutes off your 5km time feels amazing but it takes plenty of hard work and training, and you may find your technique is holding you back.
At NURVV you’ll often hear us talk about the speed equation:
Speed = Cadence x Step Length
This equation shows the relationship between your running speed and the two aspects of your technique that most affect it:
When you want to speed up, you have to increase your cadence, your step length or both to run faster. And when you slow down, either one, the other or both will decrease. Pinpoint which aspect of your technique is most affected and you can focus your training to help you hold your desired pace for longer.
Using Pace, Cadence and Step Length profiles
Your pace naturally varies over the course of every run. This is mainly due to fatigue or environmental factors such as wind, gradient and terrain. As you tire, it becomes harder to hold your pace and your speed will drop. You might not be aware of it, but this drop is a direct result of a decrease in your cadence and/or step length.
Fatigue affects every runner differently, and this is reflected in the way that cadence and step length change over the course of a run. If your legs tire it could reduce your ability to generate forceful ground contact and reduce your step length for example, or central fatigue might lead to a decrease in muscle contraction and reduce your cadence.
It’s not only your running pace that’s affected by fatigue either. As your technique breaks down, it can have knock-on effects for injury risk, too.
Using NURVV’s Pace, Cadence and Step Length Profiles will help you discover not only which aspects of your technique are affected by fatigue, but when in your run this happens. Armed with this info, you can structure your training plan to focus on developing leg strength to improve your step length or boosting leg turnover to improve cadence. You’ll also know the best distances to cover each run to minimise your injury risk.
How Cadence Profile works
For many runners, a slight cadence increase of around 5-10% can help improve running economy (the amount of energy it takes to run at a given pace) and reduce the amount of loading on the body joints, reducing injury risk.
With Cadence Profile you can see exactly when your cadence starts to drop during your run, so you can manage your run distances to lower injury risk and training to target cadence if it’s an issue.
How Step Length Profile works
Finding the perfect step length is a balancing act. You want to generate a good step length that helps you run with pace but avoid overstriding. Overstriding, when your foot lands too far in front of your hip, decreases your running economy and may increase the risk of lower leg injuries.
Step Length Profile shows how your step length varies with fatigue and how it changes on different terrains, so you can analyse any changes, avoid the risk of overstriding and work on developing leg strength to boost your step length if needed.
How Pace Profile works
Pace Profile shows you all the detail you need about your pace over a run, highlighting any sections where your speed increases or decreases in an easy-to-read graph. By analysing the curve alongside Cadence and Step Length, you can understand which aspect of your technique is causing any decreases in pace later in your run and which type of training you need to do to address it.
Pace Profile in action
In the case studies below you’ll see how Pace Profile can help you understand how your pace, cadence and step length are interacting during each stage of your run.
For the first 7km of their run, this runner is holding a consistent form and pace. Their cadence is constant and, although slightly variable, their step length is looking pretty steady, too.
From 8km though, their pace begins to drop. Their cadence drops slightly but their step length is where we see the big difference, with the ground covered with each step reducing as they tire.
This suggests that as their leg muscles fatigue, they’re not able to put enough force through the ground and would benefit from some strength training and muscular endurance work, like hill sprints.
This runner’s pace drops considerably from 5km onwards. Their main drop is in cadence. It could imply that the runner is trying to maintain their speed by increasing their step length to make up for the drop in cadence. In this case they’re overstriding, and need to be careful to monitor this as it can increase injury risk.