If you want to get faster, you have two options. You can increase your stride rate (cadence) or stride length. While there are a multitude of training theories on how to increase run speed, it always comes back to these two factors. Therefore, if you aren’t monitoring your cadence and stride length, you aren’t maximizing your run training.
In order for athletes to monitor these metrics, they need to have access to them. At COROS, all of our watches are equipped to calculate cadence and stride length. We even take it one step further and calculate run power. Power is the amount of work you are doing and calculated by the metrics of cadence and stride length. Increase your cadence while maintaining stride length and you are increasing power. Increase your stride length while you maintain cadence and you also increase power. Having these three metrics to use will ensure that each of your runs are focused and dedicated to making you a faster runner.
The best metric to focus on first is cadence. This is the easiest metric to change, and also the safest. By increasing your cadence, you are reducing the force on your legs every time you touch the ground. If you were to focus on stride length first, you would over-extend and be at a higher risk of injury. The ideal range of cadence is between 175-185 steps/minute. While each runner will slightly differ, research has shown this range to be most efficient.
Once you have the ability to maintain an efficient cadence, then it's time to build power. This can be done through intervals or drills. By building power at a certain cadence, you are increasing stride length. When using power, we want the number to be meaningful. Are you targeting a half marathon, 5k, or other running event? If so, go out and run a short distance at your goal pace. By doing so, you will quickly see what power is associated with this pace. This new number will guide you in your speed training and ensure proper adaptation. This test should be done on flat terrain to accurately match a power number to your goal pace. Once you have your new goal power identified, you should aim to build time at this power each week.
Here is a step by step look at how you should build your speed.
#1 Identify goal distance and pace you would like to run
#2 Ensure proper cadence is being met (175-185 cadence)
- If not, incorporating cadence focus into easy runs throughout the week
#3 Build cadence while obtaining proper run volume for goal
#4 Identify power associated with the goal
- Runner does not need to run the entire distance, only needs to run goal pace for a short amount of time to identify these metrics.
#5 Build a training plan that incorporates intervals with goal pace (power) included
#6 Build time at goal power
- Example: 10% of run volume at goal power week 1, 15% week 2, etc
While there are a multitude of factors incorporated into proper training plans for each individual, the starting process should remain similar. You should get to know your metrics, identify your goals, understand what it takes to reach these demands, and then build your ability to achieve them. By having access to metrics such as cadence, stride length, and power, you're in a better position to make educated training decisions. Utilize these tools and go explore perfection!