Calculate running cadence during race, for medium runner not at optimum cadence yet.

Optimum running cadence for most runners are at around 180 bpm or more. If you reached this number or above, you’re probably an elite runner or close to elite and focus on other things in your running style. For you, cadence is just one of many parameters.

For a mediocre runner on the other hand, there is a lot to gain in speed just by increasing the cadence to your max. And there are many tutorials on how to do that. However, there seem to be no info on how to adjust cadence during a single race.

Next week, I want to run a race, 8.1 kilometers, with a metronome. My speed seems directly related to my cadence, but I am not able to run with full cadence at the full length of the race.

These are the lengths I can handle at different speeds.

Race - 8.1 km

  1. 160bpm - 8.1 km (full length easily)
  2. 165bpm - 8.1 km (full length barely)
  3. 170bpm - 3 km
  4. 175bpm - 1 km

What would typically happen at the end of, for example 175bpm and one kilometer, is that my heart would reach max bpm and I can no longer maintain the cadence bmp and there will be a period of running in or around 160bpm to recover. So there is a penalty to run too fast.

Is it possible with these numbers to calculate/estimate a metronome beat for the full length of the race that would maximise the speed?

I think this will be my strategy for cadence on the sketch below.

I put the cadence on a normal distribution curve. Some elite runners on internet seem to suggest inverse speed. Slow in beginning and faster in the half end of race. (for races around 10km)

I’ll see if I have time to do some metronome coding. I’ll probaly raise the beginning of 160 so that 165 intersect in the middle, and lower 175bmp some…


  1. Verifying that the dynamic bpm promise more than a linear approach. Approximately 10% faster. See image below.

  2. Audacity can generate metronome beats in any length. So I’ll probably export a bunch of mp3 and stitch them together instead of programmingt anything myself.

Last update before race:

  1. Audacity did the job with exporting metronome beats to an audio file. With tables and pre-calculated beats it was manageable.

  2. I did a testrun, but I had to abort after 6km because of traffic. It looks really promising, it was not that hard on the heart and an average of 5:24min/km is a good pace for me, and thats despite what felt like a slowmotion pace in the beginning. There is a little extra space for the heart to beat faster the last two kilometers, and that’s good :smiley:

I hope it all works well on saturday :slight_smile:

Final conclusion:

  1. Personal record with 5:11 min/km
  2. I had plenty of juice left at the last km and I thought the race would last one more kilometer.
  3. Afterwards, looking at the pace, I was baffled how smooth it was.

So, my conclusion is that for a runner that haven’t reached a optimum cadence, it could be beneficial to move a reachable higher cadence to the end of the run.

I probably stick to my 40 min metronome song a few more times, since it gives a really good workout and only pushes you to the limit when you’re really warmed up.

I got out of breath just reading this.

You have my deepest sympathies :slight_smile:

The chances of actually finding anyone interested in running on a programming forum like this are very slim.

For example, only 2% of the population have the time, effort and cognitive capabilities to become programmers, and only 0.17% of US population finished a marathon during 2013. That makes a very narrow intersection of people that do running + programming. (What sport would hip programmers even do? Bouldering?)

My question had a dimension of math and programming, and I’m not very inclined to leave any calculations to people thats cheers and vomits at the finish line(runners), so I had faith in the programmer community with this logical problem :slight_smile: