Using Cadence and Step Length Workouts

When should I consider changing my cadence or step length?

Changing your cadence or step length might be of interest to you as a runner for a lot of reasons. You might wish to experiment with those metrics due to a plateau or decline in your current performance, to improve Race Pace or because you decided to (or have been recommended to) undergo gait retraining to optimise your running form.
There’s a lot of evidence suggesting that running with your most optimal cadence and step length at certain speeds and maintaining it through your different runs will help you run faster and more economically, and is likely to also alleviate pain associated with certain types of niggles or injuries.

Cadence (leg turnover, steps per minute) and Step length (distance per step, metres or feet) are considered to be key metrics for runners. This is because they determine a runner’s running speed. For many runners, adjusting cadence by just 5% (and this might be through either a decrease or increase of leg turnover) can already result in an improved Running Economy (reduced energy requirement) at a given pace. In some cases, working on adjusting cadence can also help to reduce impact loading associated with initial ground contact.

Similarly, achieving a good step length is important for runners, but it requires a balancing act between producing sufficient distance with each step to generate speed but avoiding overstriding. Typically, to run faster, runners are advised to increase their step length. This should be closely monitored to ensure that it doesn’t put runners at risk of overuse injuries associated with braking forces, increased ground contact time or the position of the foot relative to hips on landing.

How do I know what my optimal cadence and step length range is?

Runners who have been running for a while typically self-select cadence and step length ranges they feel most comfortable running with at a particular speed. Where those ranges are is usually down to physical and biomechanical factors, though might also be due to tactical reasons! Depending on the type of sessions a runner might be doing, typically those ranges are close to what is most optimal for that runner as the body is naturally adapting to required running efforts. Sometimes, however, the ranges a runner chooses to run at might not be within the most optimal ranges, and this might be due to compensatory mechanisms that a runner developed post-injury, their lack of strength or mobility, or simply due to poor fitness levels. What runners should be aware of is that an optimal range is highly individual and what might work for one runner might not work for another.

How can runners identify optimal ranges for cadence and step length? What tool can they use to maintain those ranges during their runs?

The answer is simple: use NURVV’s unique Form Coach feature and utilise Cadence and Step Length Workouts to identify what ranges are most economical for you and use in-run coaching to stay on track of maintaining those during your custom workout sessions.

Why is it worth using the Form Coach feature first?
NURVV Run’s Form Coach feature was designed to help runners find their sweet spot concerning different form metrics (Cadence, Step Length and Footstrike) to help them run more economically. Only when you know where your areas for improvement are, you will be able to optimise form and maximise your running economy at a certain pace.

Through Form Coach, runners can get insights into what their most economical combination of form factors are for a certain pace range. Once this information is unlocked, runners can then make the most of the Cadence and Step Length Workout features to design custom workouts tailored to their individual needs. Runners can build workouts of any style, e.g., intervals, progression sessions, where any of those metrics are being gradually increased/decreased to help their running form development.

Visit Cadence Workout and Step length Workout and watch short videos to understand how to make the most out of NURVV’s new features to effectively adjust your form.

Gait Retraining with a focus on Cadence and Step length

Once you decide to adjust your step length and/or cadence values in-run, be aware that any changes to your form metrics should be made gradually and over a prolonged period of time. Typically, the body needs 6—8 weeks to adapt to a new movement. As a general rule, NURVV recommends that you only focus on changing one metric at a time and start your retraining process with only two metric-specific workouts per week (either Cadence or Step length). This should be accompanied by strength work focused on the metric of your interest to maximise your gait retraining efforts.

For specific beginner/advanced Training Plans to support Cadence and Step length workouts and transition, view documents below:

Cadence - Session 1 Beginner

Cadence - Session 2 Beginner

Cadence - Session 1 Advanced

Cadence - Session 2 Advanced

Step Length - Session 1 Beginner

Step Length - Session 2 Beginner

Step Length - Session 1 Advanced

Step Length - Session 2 Advanced

What to expect during and after Cadence or Step length retraining?
Always be aware that introducing a change in one aspect of your running form may have some kind of an impact on your other metrics. To ensure that your injury risk is minimal, regularly monitor your Running Health and observe how the trend in your different metrics change throughout your retraining phase.

Additionally, during your training period, prioritise active recovery and where needed, allowing your body additional rest. More details on recovery can be found here:

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