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Running cadence - help needed

After yet ANOTHER disastrous 10km race, I've decided to try working on my plodding cadence.

I just ran my first 10k of the year in 50mins, exactly the same as every other 10k I've done, and exactly the same as my 10k time in the London triathlon last year. It seems to me that I've hit some kind of maximum running speed (although I can sprint quicker).

I seem to run at the same speed regardless of whether or not I've just done the swim & bike too.

One of the biggest differences I notice compared to the fast guys is that I seem to really 'plod' along. I've tried keeping up with their stride rate, and their feet are moving at what feels like an unnaturally fast rate. If I copy them I feel like I'm skipping on my tip-toes.

I'm guessing that they are correct, and I'm wrong to be plodding, but I'd appreciate some advice from fast runners - I've read that I should be make 180-190 foot steps per minute (!) instead of about 100.

Here's an idea I had: does anybody have an .mp3 file of a metronome clicking away at the correct stride rate? I could stick it on my ipod and try to stay in time.



  • PC67PC67 Posts: 101
    It'd probably help to know more about your training regime.

    I used to always run 10k in races at around the 50 min mark, usually just inside that and sometimes slower.

    Now my "usual" is around 45~46 mins though my PB is 44 mins 20.

    To what do I attribute the breakthrough? Not necessarily more mileage though I believe that helps, but I found a park with a hill about 2.5 miles away. Around the time I was making my improvements I was running to this park, doing a few repeats of this hill (torturous after a while) and then running home. Before long I found that my body was much better able to tolerate a higher tempo. So, in my experience continuing the occasional 45 minute run but adding one tough session a week really helped.

    My current goal is to run 3-4 times a week, one tempo run, one hill/interval run and one longer slow run, plaus if I can, any run that I can fit in depending on my mood.

    I also find my times are quite dependent on my weight. I don't fluctuate wildly but I'm around 13.25 stone at the moment but when I'm in full training I'm just under 13 stone, maybe 12.75 at my lightest. I find being just under 13 stone helps for me - i.e., not slavishly following a weight loss agenda, but maybe having shed the unnecessary pounds that inevelitably appear during the winter.

  • BopomofoBopomofo Posts: 980
    Cheers Man of Steel. I found the files myself, then came back and saw you'd linked them as well. Ta!

    So, the only question is which one to use? 180bpm?

    To PC67: I run 3-4 times per week, but I think I'm so demoralised with it that I'm just going through the motions at the moment.

    Mondays and Wednesdays a.m. I do about 5.5km, at whatever pace feels comfortable. Usually this is about 26-27 minutes.

    Thursday nights I run for 20-30 minutes on a treadmill (after 40-60 minutes of intervals on the bike) and I alternate 2 minutes of 12kmh, 1 minute 9kmh at 2 degrees slope.

    Weekends I generally go for a 60 minute plod.

    ...and now I've written it down I think my running schedule is basically junk miles and nothing more.

    How long is your hill? How steep? Also, what distance/time should a 'tempo' run be? Is there any point to me going out for a 27 minute run, or is there a minimum time I should be doing? And should I save one of my junk runs for the brick session, rather than combining an interval bike with an interval run?

    Or maybe I should give up and go back to swimming [:(]
  • The only way I managed to break through 50mins was to run with my forerunner 305 as my pace setter. That way I could work out what sub-50 felt like.

    I only run 2 times a week: a "long" run of 10 miles (or a bit further if I get lost [:D]) and 8-10 hill reps.

  • I'm with PC67, Around this time last year i was running 10k in 50mins (give or take 2mins either way) and all i was doing was running the distance over and over again with no noticeable improvement.

    When the season finished i came to the conclusion i wasn't getting the most out of each training session... going through the motions!!!

    It was then i decided to make every session count (well...most!) and plan my sessions with specific goals.

    I now spend less time run training than before but have seen a big improvement on my 10k times which is now always around 40mins with 38mins being my PB.

    I run train 3 times per week...

    Session 1 30-40 mins fartlek

    Session 2 30-40 Hills/intervals

    Session 3 60-90mins slow and steady

    Every so often I'll do 10k against the clock to see where I'm at.Its worked for me thus far!

    I'm not sure about the cadence stuff, I just run as i always have done and hope its ok!!!

  • PC67PC67 Posts: 101
    OK, first up: don't think of me as some kind of expert! I like to employ common sense in my training but admit I read a lot (I always pick up a running mag in airports for example, and bike mags etc...).

    It strikes me that the 26-27 minute run is where you could make your first improvements.

    My intution tells me that if you're training for olympic distance you should be able to do the following on an individual basis

    -swim for about 2,000m, meaning the required 1,500m is comfortable enough. I fall down here - I always stop, usually knackered, at 1,500m, if even that far.

    -cycle at a good pace for at least 2 hours (i.e., a good 45+ mins longer than my target 40k bike split)

    - run for an hour without too much hassle (meaning that when it comes to it you're comfortable running the 45-50 mins required to cover 10k).

    If I was in your position I'd aim to do 2-3 55-60 minute runs a week. After a few weeks and you've built up your base then start adding some tempo or hills.

    The hill I run is in Gladstone Park in NW London. It takes the bones of 2 mins to run up it and the last 30 seconds is at pretty much maximum rate of perceived exertion - i.e., it hurts. It takes me 23 mins usually to get to the park, do a half lap and get to the top of this hill for the first time. Once there I'll do 3 (or 4 if I can - not always) further repeats of this hill, run up, walk or jog down, and then run home.

    I'm not sure but I think the steady run home is where a lot of the benefit is. My body is a bit distressed at this stage and plodding out a few miles in this condition is what really stands to me running a flat 10k. It also helps me cope with that hill at Windsor every year!

    In a perverse way I find hills easier to do than flat intervals. If you set yourself the goal of getting to the top you just do it, no matter how much it starts to hurt. If I was setting my self fast intervals I'm not sure I'd be as disciplined.

    Another relatively common sense concept I aim towards is "breakthrough" training, i.e., every few weeks you should noticably be able to do something you couldn't previously, be it an extra few miles or a few minutes quicker.

    I'm sure properly knowledgable trainers here would pick holes in what I'm saying, but I'm just offering my honest opinion.

    My goal is sub-40 mins 10k but so far this year all I've done is moderate pace runs, I've yet to start my hill routine this season.
  • BARNYBARNY Posts: 157
    For me the following things helped me speed up my running in order of which I think was the most effective:

    Use a heart rate monitor - a long low effort run, Long low effort go on turbo trainer - It is just imposible to get your pace right to increase aerobic fitness without using a HRM I think - when you first start to train with one you are barely more than walking, but this soon changes and the highly visable results are super motivating. Also doing a low effort brick session at the gym feels great - 1 hr on bike/Turbo trainer followed by 45min low effort run and your not even tired.

    Lose weight - Just do point one and the weight will fall off - I have lost a stone in the last 6 months from using a HRM for low intensity workouts. (really anoying as none of my clothes fit me anymore!!!!)

    Variety of runs/style/routes- self explanitory
  • pigletpiglet Posts: 86
    I picked up a article in a Australian Tri mag about this very thing. It suggested progressive workouts where you increase tempo as the run progresses. For example for the 10km run. Start first 2km at 5.20 pace, next 2 km at 5.15, next 2km at 5.10 pace next at 5.05. Start first week at 8km runs. Next week go slightly faster for 8km. next same as previous but go for 10km. Build up to 12km total the aim to pick up speed every 2 km. Obviously the paces given were an example- you have to work what speed to start with that works for you., but in the end of the 4 weeks you should be starting your run faster and certainly finishing much faster

    I have been trying theses workouts for only two weeks and have got my 5km time down. I have been using the treadmill as it's the easiest way to monitor exactly the pace you are doing.

    Worth a try???
  • Bopomofo, you might need to look at your stride length too. If you are over striding you will struggle to keep the desired cadence. This is especially relevant when running up hills - shorter steps and a consistent turnover.
  • BopomofoBopomofo Posts: 980
    Just thought I'd check back in and thank you all for the advice.

    I've combined a bit of what you've all been saying, and I'm now up to the following:

    Cadence: pretty consistently at 180 strides/minute now. BigCheese was completely correct - my big long stride meant I was spending more energy bouncing up and down than going forwards. Short fast strides make me feel like I'm flying....

    Mon/Wed/Fri lunchtimes: PC67's nasty hill repeats. What the hell did I ever do to you? [:D] My hill also takes me about 2 mins, and is 18 minutes from the office. There's another hill on the way home, then the last 400m is level and I run it using my 'hill speed' so I can feel what it is like to put all that effort in on the flat instead. These sessions hurt, lots. Hurrah!

    Weekend: long slow run, as before, concentrating on keeping up the stride rate.

    When the ground gets drier I'll be swapping out a hill session for a speed session at a local park. One lap = 1km, so I'll be alternating sprint and recovery laps.

    I feel faster already, and for the first time in years I am enjoying my running! Next race is a 10k in about 1 month, so I'll let you know my time. Fingers crossed...
  • PC67PC67 Posts: 101
    I haven't a clue what my cadence is but after a few weeks of running at lunchtime with a faster colleague (usually 50+ mins so maybe 10k+) and just one punishing hill session I broke my season's best by over 90 seconds and beat my all time PB by over 20. Did 44mins 04 secs. Not having had a cold in the weeks preceeding a race helped as I've had 2 already since November.

    I'm sure a scientific / HRM based approach can pay dividends but if you ask me running a bit more frequently, running for longer and periodically running faster than is comfortable is a sure way to get quicker.
  • BopomofoBopomofo Posts: 980
    Good progress, PC67. Well on your way to that magic sub-40, and very encouraging to see the training is working. If I can see even a 5% improvement in my next attempt I'll be a very happy bunny.

    I forgot to mention in my previous post that in my brick session runs I'm doing as piglet suggested and progressively picking up the pace.

    Got to agree with your summary: More, Longer, Faster. I'm also trying to maintain an attitude of "I'm not out here to get slower, I'm out here to train, so let's f*%^ing TRAIN!".
  • insideinside Posts: 22
    Hi, sorry I have come in on this one a bit late but from what you initially outlined, I can't see any quality running

    Midweek road session 5k in 26-27 @ comfortable pace (plodding) - My brackets

    Treadmill session - Probably a plodding session also

    Weekend - Long run

    So in short nothing to stress your body.

    Here is a session that I do

    Near my house is a set of hills on an estate. There are 4 in total each running parallel. The first takes around 1:30 to run up. They get progressively shorter and steeper.

    So I warm up, run briskly up the first and jog back down, onto the next road, repeat and so on.

    It takes about 10 minutes to complete a whole cycle of the 4 roads and back to the start

    A couple of sets of these and I am a little red of face

    Can you adapt something like this?

  • BopomofoBopomofo Posts: 980
    Yes, inside, that was the conclusion we came to. See my post a few up from yours.
  • insideinside Posts: 22
    Yes - sorry I meant to add that you seemed to have diagnosed it.

    Just giving you a session for "getting out of breath" that works for me..
  • BopomofoBopomofo Posts: 980
    OK, inside, see what you mean. Sounds like you're pretty lucky having those convenient hills close by. I'm just going to work on increasing the nu,mber of hill repeats I do, maybe by one extra repeat each week until I'm up to about 10. Including the run out and back that will give me about 1 hour total.

    Re. your 'plodding' comments. Fair diagnosis, although the treadmill session was (I think) the only quality session I was doing. Straight off the bike, running 1 min recovery and 2 mins very high perceived effort for 20-30mins. I'm going to keep doing this.
  • BopomofoBopomofo Posts: 980
    Just to follow this old thread to conclusion.... I kept up my hill training etc until just a few days after my last post above. Disaster then struck in the form of an impact injury to the large vein in my left calf (apparently) caused by over-training on hills. Sheesh.

    So... no running for the last four or five weeks, apart from an experimental jog two weeks ago that persuaded me that all was still not well.

    I've carried on cross-training furiously, as swimming and cycling don't hurt my leg.

    My make or break day was yesterday, when I took part in the Eastleigh 10k, a fast flat race. I thought I'd have a go, stop if it hurt, and if there was any pain afterwards then see the doctor again and move onto whatever the next steps might be.

    I certainly didn't go out to try and do what the original point of this thread was.... to finally crack my 50min barrier. To be honest, I was so much in the mind-set of just using it as an experimental jog and a good excuse for a trining session that I even had a few beers the night before. [:)]

    Anyway, it felt good on the day, and I finished in....

    ... drum roll...

    46:59! PB by over 3 minutes!

    I was at 4:30 per km all the way round, but my lack of run training got the better of me in the last 1500m and I almost stopped. Felt great afterwards, so celebrated with a 3300m swim session last night. Legs are fine today, no sign of injury so I'll start gently bringing up the training again. When I do start the hill sessions again I'll keep the volume right down, just do 1 hill session per week and stay on the flat for the rest of the time.

    Those few weeks of getting some structure and volume into my running has really paid off, even after weeks of non-running. I can't help but wonder what my time could have been if I hadn't injured myself.

    Thanks for all the advice and encouragement, gents. I'm going to monitor the 'Pose Running' thread to see what I can learn there.

    One more time...... PB by over 3 minutes!!!
  • slatsslats Posts: 11
    Try googling 'evolution running', a tech divised by a guy called Ken mierke. It basically involes running at a high cadence with a few other things thrown in as well. I can honestly say it changed my life (for the better) running wise. There are various books and a dvd on it which you can get via amazon etc.

    If you stick with it and put into place only half the tech the difference it makes is unbelievable.
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