According to most articles (here, here, and here, for example), the optimal cadence is 180 strikes per minute. That’s what most elite runners seem to be consistently doing no matter the distance. So, for a 5k race or a marathon, these elite athletes run at a constant cadence of 180. What makes them faster is the stride rate.
This article in corerunning.com indicates that how fast one can run depends on two variables, stride rate and stride length.
Stride rate or cadence is the number of foot strikes per minute while your stride length is simply the distance between one foot strike and the next.
To run faster you need to do one of the following:
1. Increase your cadence.
2. Increase your stride length.
3. Increase both.
Given that my cadence is crap, I think I’ll focus on increasing that first. This article in runningrules.com suggests doing the following drills at least once a week:
- Intervals – Gradually increase cadence to 180 in 3 to 5 minute intervals separated by walking or jogging slowly.
- Dorsiflex – Before hitting the ground, pull up the toes towards the shin.
- Land on you centre of gravity – I understand this a not stretching the legs forward, instead landing the foot at the same level as the hips/torso.
I’ll give these a go.