Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Another Way To Improve Your Running Economy

Small, quick steps
I wrote a few days ago about how to improve your running (or cycling) economy by inhaling carbon monoxide. Despite it being easier than training at altitude (and legal) compared to injecting yourself with illegal drugs, it can go terribly wrong if it's not done in a laboratory.

Well, I just read another article about improving your running economy, and it's a much easier way compared to the last article.

The researchers investigated whether a short training program of running 15 minutes for 10 days to increase cadence (or step frequency) to 180 steps per minute (90 strides / minute) will improve running economy.

The subjects were divided into two groups and they did training at the laboratory for 12 consecutive days. Running economy tests were done on day 1 and 12, followed by a maximal oxygen uptake test (day 1 only).

One group of runners completed a 10-day training program to increase cadence (or step frequency) on days 2-11. This consisted of running 180 steps per minute for 15 minutes at a self selected pace.

The control group completed the same runs without the step frequency training.

Oxygen consumption was significantly lower  for the group that did the cadence training but not the control group. The cadence training runners also had a faster cadence (7%) subsequently as well as a shorter step length (3.7%). Hear rates were 5.1% lower as well.

Seems like a much safer way to improve running economy to me than trying to inhale carbon monoxide from your car if you can't do it in a laboratory.

In the same way, cyclists can similarly improve by using a smaller gear to achieve a high pedaling rate.

As with all things pertaining with new training, do allow for time for your body to adapt to the new technique.


Quin TJ, Dempsey S et al (2019). Step Frequency Training Improves Running Economy In Well-Trained Female Runners. J Strength Cond. DOI: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000003206.

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