Running Cadence and Foot Strike – Everything You Need To Know

Any routine is hard to begin. I wouldn’t say I like change at all. Best, we make use of the resources we’ve got to help make transition manageable.

There is consistent change along your running journey. Whether you’re training for your first marathon or working on nailing your most optimal running form, you need to follow a training program that guides you towards your goals.

Changes are ENDLESS! And you are unique. You need a personalized running program that works best for your fitness needs to enable you to attain your running goals while also taking the time to enjoy your running journey too!

Any structured program for any athlete should have training staples that can be used as benchmarks to help them achieve their larger goal ultimately. Think of these as the steps on your staircase at home. Each step takes you one step closer to the top of the stairs while going up your staircase. And every step is a unique building block in its way.

If you don’t have essential fitness, hold off on doing speed work or any sprints! Focus on the basics. Take your time. Don’t run yourself into an injury. Literally.

Optimizing Your Stride Intervals & Cadence with Proper Running Form

More steps = a more optimal stride length.

The quicker your foot turnover is, the less likely you’ll overstride and be at risk of an injury. You’ll also be placing a less consistent impact on your lower body and feet with a quicker turnover. This pre-recorded video on this topic gets into the trenches of foot cadence (spm = steps per minute) and stride length.

Watch it below!

After you’ve completed these drills shown in the video above for three consecutive weeks, twice daily, you should be off to a successful start to your running journey. If you still have questions, please email them over to me, and let’s chat about how we can improve your running in a way that works for you. Please email me here! Let’s chat!

How Do You Know If Your Foot Strike is Bad?

Good foot strike staples are imperative to your success as a runner. The list below contains all of the appropriate foot strike staples your running form needs to help you optimize your running:

  • Keep a forward ankle lean. Do not bend from your waist. It’d be a perfect diagonal in an ideal world if I were to draw a straight line from your shoulder to your feet. You were thinking of your body lengthening from heel to shoulder while reaching for the stars to elongate your spine. Just a fun cue. And it might work for you!
  • Keep both of your shoulders down and back, almost like they’re giving one another a high five. Eliminate any excessive anterior or posterior pelvic tilt. In English, what I mean is try to keep your spine aligned with your neck as best as possible by tucking your butt underneath you, almost like Steve urchin. Flexing your abs – they’re there! Then, giving a quick jog a try! Let me know how this works out for you!
  • Focus on picking your foot speed up while you run. Especially while ramping up to faster speeds when you’re running. Improve cadence, steps per minute can lead to a more optimal stride length, making the most out of each stride for you by allowing yourself to leverage as much strength and power as you have and need to use for your running.
  • Keep your knees in front of your ankles, along with your torso. When you’re in the propulsion phase, you should look comparable to a straight incline ramp, or, imagining it, like you’re falling into a wall while keeping both feet and heels on the ground, never leaning from your hips.

Want a friendly coaching tip? GOOD. Because I got one for you! Try taking a video of yourself while practicing these drills daily. After every week, review the videos and make a note of any differences you see in your running form. If there are none, note that too! Progress has a different timeline for everyone, including yourself.

How Can Having a Bad Foot Strike Hurt Your Running?

A bad foot strike within a matter of time will lead to an injury. Everyone is unique and has a different mechanical genetic makeup.

Own your originality. Focus on landing both feet under your torso first and foremost, and don’t overthink it!

Less is more, especially in this case scenario. You will never be able to progress in miles or snag a new race PR if you don’t focus on nailing your foot cadence first.

Let’s say for a SUB-4-hour marathon, three runners had the following:

Foot Cadence Marathon Time

200 spm 4:00 hours

195 spm 4:00 hours

201 spm 4:00 hours

If the runner with a cadence of 195 steps per minute increased their cadence by 5-10%, they probably could’ve saved more energy and used that to push forward and move further, faster than the other two runners with a higher cadence and the same final marathon time. The beauty of learning from experience! 🙂

Furthermore, it’s important to closely assess how you are recovering, eating, sleeping, and doing outside of the fitness aspect of your training. Doing this will help you perform the best you can without risking any injuries. Whether that means adding in more mobility work, stretching drills, hours of daily sleep, or establishing healthier eating holistically, it’s important not to neglect these things to allow yourself to see how much your running can do for you!

If You Have Been Running, Can You Still Adjust Your Foot Strike?

You can always grow and learn more about yourself. Going back to the basics and retesting your body’s running mechanics and form every once in a while is a blessing. Take those opportunities and create learning experiences out of them. Our bodies are everchanging, our minds are ever-changing, and so is our running as we grow with the sport.

Remain a student of your profession and you’ll be running pain-free and happy for life! Also, it’s free!

Next time you perform a self-assessment, use the graphic above to see what your proper running form should look like by referencing the picture on the right with the green checkmarks and where they are on my body, and also seeing what bad running form looks like but studying the picture on the left with the red x’s on my body. This data gives you a visual of what to look for in your running form.

When you take the video(s) of yourself running, check for:

  • Your knee bend, as shown on the picture on the right
  • Focus on your ankle lean and torso in relation to your ankles and feet while you run
  • Focus on your foot strike

Practice mid-foot striking with your feet for 5 minutes 6x/week after your runs for four weeks. After four weeks, compare a before and after video of you working on this running drill before moving on to another drill. One thing at a time.

Doing this will ultimately, help you to nail your best running form and determine your success as a runner.

If you’re interested in learning more about running form, and how it can help you to run longer, or to snag your new PR, signup for my online 2-hour online forum, introducing you to my online 2-month running form course! The forum is capped at 15 participants and spots will be filled on a first-come first-served basis. Signup to snag your free spot today right here.

In this forum, I will be extensively discussing ways to improve your form, beginning from where to start, what to do, programming for your first 2 months of training, while providing you with discounted services to my partners at Prehab RUN, DPTs who specializes in injury prevention for runners!

Nail the basics. Get your mileage up without getting any injuries. Afterward, work on speed while keeping the weekly mileage volume the same. Focus on one thing at a time!

Please leave your comments, suggestions, and questions in the comments.

It’s time to keep you running happy® for good!

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