Me, Bernard, And Meb: A Tale Of Three Runners. Only Two Of Whom Are Actually Any Good.

Bernard Lagat: 216
Meb Keflezhigi: 203
Rod: 218

Me and champion runners, Bernard Lagat & Meb Keflezhigi, each with a stride per minute (SPM) count of over 200.

I just calculated mine. Twice. And I average 218 SPM. If you watched me cross the finish line at this year’s Around The Bay Road Race, you may have noted my particularly short footsteps. (Look for me in red on the left as the finish line clock overhead strikes 2:31:56 )

Well it turns out via a cursory review of the literature that experts within the running community have repeatedly determined that shorter quicker steps are in. And they’re here to stay.

The conventional wisdom dictates that 180 SPM is what most runners should aim for.  Recreational runners however tend to take too few SPM — usually registering around 160 SPM.

Not only has this cadence been found to be inefficient but more importantly such a low stride turnover is correlated with a higher rate of injuries among runners.

While the chief concern of the running cognoscenti is to increase one’s cadence to the magical 180 SPM. I have found little in terms of the literature to suggest what happens when a runner’s cadence, like mine, Bernard’s and Meb’s, exceeds that mark.

Bernard’s cadence definitely works for him. As does Meb’s. Mine? Well I can most assuredly hold my own amongst my high school graduating class 😃

Truthfully though, I’m quite certain that there are plenty of experts who would take apart my myriad of techniques/strategies/quirks with the same glee I usually reserve for popping bubble wrap. And rightfully so. I am no Boston Qualifier. Let alone elite athlete, Olympian, or champion. But in case you haven’t noticed, I have taken immeasurable pleasure in putting my name alongside such illustrious company throughout this article!

Nonetheless I feel I may have stumbled onto an elixir of sorts. Or at least a significant reason for my sustained good health as an avid runner.

Like many of you I have met many a doomsdayer who is quick to denounce our sport. Running is bad for you they say. It’ll hurt your knees they say.

Well I have been blessed with abundant health and have thus far gratefully obviated the pitfalls that purportedly every runner will inevitably suffer.

And my staccato steps may just be the key to all of that.

Now bring on the Kenyans!




  1. I was well into running before I checked my cadence and was surprised to find out I am almost always at 180, whether running hills, LSR’s or speed. That cadence just feels right to me, but I admit that when I see video of me running it always looks like my steps are very small – I would almost think too small if it weren’t for the fact I am at the recommended cadence.

    1. And, touch wood, you’ve never had any of the wear and tear problems either, right?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: