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Cross Training For Runners

How to increase the speed of running and not to get injured

3 Mins read

Running speed is proportional to cadence and stride length. You need to raise at least one of these parameters to increase speed. In this article, the essay writer who provides essay help writing explains how they influence each other and what other factors you need to consider to increase your running speed safely.

Even in an amateur race, there are always two types of runners. Some run with the frequent shuffling of their feet. Others move with sprawling strides. The former has a higher cadence, but the latter has long strides. Both approaches should have a positive effect on speed. Who should we look up to?

Cadence is one of the quantitative characteristics of running, equal to the frequency of steps per minute. Most often, it’s the number of times both feet touches the ground – about 160-200 steps per minute.

To measure a basic cadence, you run at an average pace, count the number of steps with one foot in 30 seconds, and then multiply this by four.

Length of steps

With a longer stride length, you stay in the air longer, which is a plus. But when you land on an extended straight leg, the load on your joints and tendons is significantly increased compared to landing on a leg with a more relaxed knee. At the same time, even a tiny error in landing can lead to injury.

Long stride running is a particular exercise that helps improve muscle work while pushing off while running.

At the same time, it takes more work to maintain a high pace with long strides. If you drastically increase the stride length, the step frequency will decrease, and the speed gain will not be as significant.

Frequency of steps

You’ve probably heard of the ideal rate of 180 steps per minute. But if you increase your cadence by 20-25 steps per minute at once, there’s a good chance that your HR will jump. This is not good either. Keep your base cadence the same by 5% per week or two.

The “magic” number 180 was derived from an analysis of Olympic running. Amateur-level running does not have to be strictly within this value. A slight deviation is acceptable and depends on anatomical features (leg length, joint mobility) and running experience.

How to run faster

First, it is worth asking yourself the question: whether it is necessary at all. After all, we’re talking about running for health and pleasure. An amateur runner can and should focus more on feeling rather than numbers.

But if you’re not interested in running without increasing your numbers, it’s worth remembering that in addition to cadence and stride length, many factors affect your running speed:

  • Choosing the right shoes for your foot structure and treadmill surface;
  • Choosing clothing that wicks away moisture and is appropriate for the weather;
  • Regular exercise, including cross-training to help strengthen the cortex muscles and develop joint mobility;
  • Sufficient rest time, traditional massage or sauna;
  • A good quality warm-up before a run;
  • Adequate goals and patience.

How to run safer

Unprofessional runners often run at their natural stride rate, which differs from the ideal. Some are more prone to injury, and others less so. A pair of scientific papers investigating the difference between the two were presented in June at the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine.

The first study involved 32 healthy and 93 injured runners. It showed that the average cadence of the runners in the two groups differed slightly: 164 and 161, respectively.

The scientists compared the load on foot, and the injured runners did have a higher gear. However, they could not correlate this parameter with the cadence of healthy and injured runners.

Another study involved 28 amateur runners who were training for a half marathon. In this case, there was a clear correlation between injury and cadence:

8 out of 12 runners with a cadence below 162 were injured, 67%;

5 out of 7 runners with a tempo of 163-168 were impaired – 71%;

only 2 out of 9 runners with a cadence above 169 were injured – 22%.

It is worth noting that this study did not consider the runners’ initial training. During the study, the average cadence of all participants increased from 165 to 173 due to race preparation. It is likely that runners with higher cadence were initially better prepared and were, therefore, less prone to injury.

The research evidence needs to be clarified. Of course, we cannot say that cadence is irrelevant for safe running. However, starting from this parameter alone does not make sense: it is too early to name the ideal number.

At the same time, less contact with the ground with a greater length of steps also does not guarantee less load on the leg.

Good news

With experience, cadence and stride length increase in parallel, and running become more efficient and enjoyable.

Running in long strides is very tiring and, therefore, unsafe. I was immediately comfortable running with a cadence close to 180. But most of the time, I run in the gym on the treadmill – this helps increase my tempo. When I run outside, the steps lengthen, but the speed stays the same as the steps become less frequent. Either way, I always run without too much fatigue.

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