Ask the Coach
A running stride consists of stride length and stride rate/cadence. The theoretical “optimal stride rate” is ...
Illustration by Jeremy Collins
I have heard a lot about turnover/cadence and how it affects running efficiency. What is optimal cadence for trail running and how do you increase your turnover/cadence?
—Todd Merrill, Woodstock, MD
A running stride consists of stride length and stride rate/cadence. The theoretical “optimal stride rate” is one that allows you to maintain the most efficient bio-mechanics, resulting in faster running. Among coaches there is a general rule of having athletes try to achieve 180 foot falls per minute. But as sports scientist Alex Hutchinson points out, “This number comes from observing Olympic-level runners running at race pace.” We also know intuitively that our cadence picks up as we speed up and decreases as we slow, which is also proven in the research. So there is no one magic running cadence that is optimal for everyone.