Monday, August 1, 2011

Turning Japanese: Beginner Barefoot Tips on Cadence

Take a look at normal humans (not elites or track stars) at any 5K race and you will generally see slow foot turnover (cadence) and very long strides.  I used to be that guy.  I thought I was going faster by taking longer strides.  My knees would ache after a race or hard training runs.

After reading up on barefoot running, I learned about the 180+ Cadence.  This basically means that your feet should hit the ground 180 times/minute.  That is 90 times/minute for each foot.  While you can use a metronome to  get a sense for the beat, I prefer to use Podrunner podcast mixes to calilbrate myself. DJ SteveBoy mixes 60-90 minutes of electronic music at a consistent beats per minute (BPM) and publishes that cadence it in the title of each podcast.  Pick any one that is 180 or more BPM or faster and drop your foot every time he drops the beat.  
If I don't feel like using headphone, I frequently sing Turning Japanese - by The Vapors in my head or out loud if the moment strikes me.  

It's pretty good for keeping that cadence and it satisfies my inner 80s high school student.  I can't take credit for idea as I read it somewhere on the interwebs a long time ago.  Please excuse the lack of credit if you happened to be the first to hum this song while running.

If you are like me, the high cadence will be a bit taxing on your aerobic conditioning at first.  Stay with it.  It will get easier and in the not too distant future, you will become more efficient in your running style.

This cadence does a few things.  
  1. Your feet don't have time to stay in an unhealthy impact with the ground because you are picking them up quickly.
  2. It discourages you from "throwing" your foot way out in front of you.  You won't really have enough time to send your foot that far out and you will almost naturally place it underneath you.
Stay tuned for more Beginner barefoot tips and trick here at


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