The importance of cadence in cycling and running in the pre-season

The question always seems to be whether to spin or not to spin one's wheels, figuratively speaking both on the bike and run.

More importantly, the questions are what rate to spin and how much resistance to employ at this point of the early season.

High spinning cadence on the bike and run is very important to both training and racing success at any time during the season; however, the focus must be jointly placed on maintaining a lower heart rate while achieving these increased abilities.

Your cardiovascular system will develop the ability to work in concert with your muscular motor learning ability, but you must be patient. Some athletes develop this skill quicker than others.

Generally athletes take about a month to develop a sense of what is required for greater efficiency and faster-paced training/racing. For example, let us examine running cadence on flat terrain with fast foot turnover.

There are plenty of helpful drills to increase your foot speed rather than just going to the track for mudane repeats. Why not add some adventure to your training? I like to choose rugged trails for agility or pavement surfaces with the appropriate lines between the blocks of asphalt for fast foot turnover.

Similarly, you can use wooden planks placed 18 inches apart over a flat surface to increase foot speed. I used to do this sort of drill with my horse, Heidi, to increase her foot speed for dressage competitions. However, those planks of wood were 18 inches apart and two feet highand I rode with no reins or stirrups, simply using leg control.

This form of drill training proved very successful for both Heidi and me in the dressage ring and in running race courses, whether flat or hilly.

Various drills can be added to your uphill running training to achieve fast foot turnover, which will translate to speed over any course.

Through the use of various drills, I have been able to develop a rapid turnover of 110 steps per minute. I have also implemented similar drills for my athletes to incorporate into their training to achieve faster and energy-efficient running results.

Your target should be for close connection to the ground surface with a shortened, flowing stride while increasing your rate of turnover. Think of Jack Nicholson in the movie As Good As It Gets, where he was trying to avoid stepping on cracks in the sidewalk because of his various phobias. This will add some comic relief to your drills!

This form of running is not only energy-saving and efficient for long endurance running events, but also is a very fast form of running when developed properly over time.

This also is the time of year to be spinning at a rapid rate on your bike while maintaining a low heart rate with efficient power output.

You can attend Spinning? classes offered at health clubs or gyms. However, equally efficient are those programs designed for custom home cycling on a CompuTrainer or various fluid trainers. Home cycling programs offer some flexibility around your life schedule meaning career, family and training.

You also need to balance the frequency of high heart rate workouts those which exceed 80 percent of max. Many athletes, both triathletes and runners, tend to exceed the number of intensity workouts per week, a formula for mid-season burnout.

Rapid spinning can be achieved while maintaining a lower HR average through less resistance. When you have developed your cardiovascular and motor muscular learning ability to work smoothly as an efficient unit, you can then increase your resistance.

It is necessary to develop and customize a program suitable to each individual athlete, because we are all different.

Developing both rapid foot turnover and rapid cadence on the bike will offer immense benefits in both disciplines.

JulieAnne White has an Ironman PR of 9:08, and a 9:21 PR in Kona. She's got a medical background and writes some of the most popular training articles on SlowTwitch. She coaches a mix of pros and amateurs, about half of them preparing for an Ironman or other ultradistance race, half for sprints or mid-distance racing. For further information about JulieAnne's coaching services, contact

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Spinning? is an indoor cycling program created by Mad Dogg Athletics, Inc.

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