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What’s your Cadence (Part 2)?

Some time ago I posted What’s Your Cadence? about compatibility between runners when it comes to cadence. That post suggested picking your running partners carefully and/or paying close attention to maintaining your own cadence when running with others. But I often see running advice that suggests everyone should run at a the same 180 cadence (90 one side). The advice is sometimes justified by suggesting that is what the elites do. But is there only one “right” cadence?

Let’s look to another “machine” to see if there are some clues to the answer. If you look at most cars, their general design is similar, yet their RPM (cadence) vs. efficiency or vs. horsepower or vs. torque curves are different. They are different because their design objectives are different. Some cars are for built for efficiency, some are for speed, some are for comfort, and some are for hauling stuff/people around.

Hmm, if you look at the human design, it is also similar but again there are differences from person to person. Some differences are genetic and some are affected by lifestyle. Is it possible that our *current* differences can influence how we “operate”? I say current because some characteristics can change such as weight, flexibility, fitness level, fuel intake, objective or simply habit.

So we have variability across individuals that can also change over time – and yet everyone’s cadence is supposed to be the same? I don’t buy it.

In general, shorter legs can turn over quicker with less extra effort. And longer legs have a harder time turning over quicker. But longer legs support a longer stride or gear. Wait, this is sounding familiar … shorter car gear, higher cadence possible to prevent stalling. Higher car gear, lower cadence possible to maintain momentum.

These are the same principles ChiRunning suggests:

  • A cadence range to account for the individual. Below the range and you are spending a long time on your feet. Above the range and you are probably working hard to turn over your feet.
  • Body sensing input via the *current* PRE, perceived rate of exertion.
  • In general, shorter legs operating towards the higher end of this range.
  • In general, longer legs operating towards the lower end of this range.
  • A relatively constant cadence for an individual with possible adjustments on very steep hills up or down.
  • Increasing speed by focusing mainly on increasing your “gear” or stride length in at least three distinct ways.

This is yet another example of ChiRunning’s principle-based approach to find your individual implementation. The choice is yours – use an artificially stated cadence or experiment to find a cadence that supports you, and your *current* characteristics and objectives.


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David Stretanski is a holistic health, fitness and wellness coach – and Certified ChiRunning®/ChiWalking® Instructor.  For more information on David, please see his About MeContact page or his website at

ChiRunning® and ChiWalking® are registered trademarks of ChiLiving, Inc.


Posted on Wednesday, Jan. 25th 2012 3:34 PM | by echifitness | in All, ChiRunning | 2 Comments »

2 Comments on “What’s your Cadence (Part 2)?”

  1. carl ehnis Says:

    Absolutely true. I’ve tried to increase my cadence for years. All it does is make me get tired quicker. My motor just ain’t that fast!

  2. David Stretanski Says:

    Thanks for the comment.

    It can take some time to increase cadence by shortening stride. With your long legs, your cadence might be closer to 85 to avoid excess effort. But at the same time a slow(er) cadence results in a long time on the ground and the opportunity to overstride. This can result in injury by impact and excess effort; particularly in the lower legs.


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