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Using Your Metronome To Find the Best Cadence

A runner’s cadence is simply the number of steps taken per minute. By continuing to take the same amount of steps per minute, runners can correctly pace themselves and prevent over-striding.

According to Men’s Health, a runner needs to find the correct cadence so that they are taking smaller steps. When taking smaller steps and avoiding over-striding, the foot lands directly underneath you, “minimizing up/down movement and translates that energy into forward momentum.” Read more on how to use a metronome to find the best cadence for you.

Find the Best Cadence

Every runner is different in their makeup and running techniques and can find a cadence that works best for them. By utilizing your running metronome, you can find the best cadence to suit your running style.

running metronome cadence

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Best Cadence: 180 or Higher
180 steps per minute counting both feet is considered the optimal cadence level for the average runner. By running at a 180 cadence, you are utilizing the momentum of your feet hitting directly under your body and in the process preventing over-striding. Over-striding can cause injuries such as runner’s knee and Achilles tendonitis.

Finding the best cadence for you is important but you should aim to reach 180 or higher. Depending on the terrain, you may have a lower cadence but Jack Daniels, the legendary running coach, explains that in a study of 46 Olympic athletes, only 1 had a cadence shorter than 180 and most took more.” Taking more steps than 180 is advisable and by determining your cadence with your metronome, you’ll soon be running at an ideal cadence for you.

How To Find Your Own Cadence Using a Metronome
When finding your own cadence, you’ll want to test your running on a treadmill, which will give you the clearest results. To begin, run on a treadmill with an incline of 1% to mimic the outdoor terrain. Using your metronome, run at a desired pace and at the usual metronome beats per minute you’re used to. Once you have found your normal cadence, you may need to adjust it to be higher.

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Using your metronome, set the beats per minute higher than what you ran previously, working your way up in intervals of five extra beats and steps per minute. At first this may seem awkward or rushed, but like riding a bike, will eventually come as second nature.

Practice at 180
Upping your metronome to a minimum of 180 beats per minute is a great way to find your cadence. After upping your beats per minute to a doable amount, try out 180. Run along on the treadmill and get a feel for what a 180 cadence feels like, hitting your foot to the treadmill at every beep of the metronome.

If you feel as if you can do more, add a few more beats per minute such as 182 or 184. It’s not a terrible thing to run at a shorter cadence than 180, just make sure it’s higher than 170.

According to Brent Edwards, Ph.D. at the Department of Kinesiology and Nutrition at University of Illinois at Chicago for Men’s Health, the correct cadence will result in your optimal energy efficiency while running.

Use a Heart Rate Monitor
It’s advised that you use a heart rate monitor when adjusting your cadence with your metronome. This can be installed in your treadmill or you can use a runner’s watch, which has a built-in heart rate monitor. Test out multiple cadences. If your heart rate is the lowest at a certain cadence, whether that’s 170, 180, or 184, that’s your ideal number.

Finding your correct cadence may take time though. Some runners explain that they monitored their cadence for weeks before determining the correct one for them. Continue to check your heart rate with a monitor when running and determine which number of strides per minute requires the lesser heart rate. Once you find your ideal cadence, remember to re-adjust it every few months to make sure you’re getting the most out of your run.

Do you use a metronome for running? Share your tips with us below.