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Random Running Questions



  • I have any number of questions! I'll try and break them up so this isn't just a total brain fart sort of thing...

    1. I guess ground contact time and cadence are closely linked? The higher my cadence the shorter my contact time?

    2. Do taller people find it harder to run at a fast cadence? I can hit the 180s/190s etc when I'm running at what is a fast pace for me, but find it almost impossible to get above around 165 at slower paces. I'm around 6 foot 3, and fast cadence at slow speed just feels ridiculous and like I'm jogging on the spot!

    3. I understand that there's a genetic limitation to things like Vo2 max etc, but at what stage would a runner be approaching their natural limits?? Years of training and marathons etc? I am only running since March / April 2020 (lock down, 2km etc). I had a reasonable level of fitness before that but nothing above average (eg I wasn't obese or gasping for breath on a brisk walk) but I had not played any kind of sport or anything taxing in a very long time so think I was coming off a fairly low base. Naturally like all sports, I came on quickly in the initial months and this slowed as time went by. However I am no quicker now than I was in January of this year. I am generally following the Garmin training programmes on my watch, so running a good deal of easy pace, some tempo, hills etc etc... I think it's reasonably well balanced. I don't go out and try and run a fast 5k more than about once every 2 or 3 months so I am by no means obsessed with times, but when I do I am not improving anymore and wonder am I hitting my natural limits (eg so quickly as from never having run in April 2020 to hitting my limits in December 2020?? Surely not?!) or would some significant revision of training approach be worth considering? Strava says this year I'm averaging 5 runs a week for 45kms. Would I need to massively up this to see improvements? My goals are not marathon etc but would like to shave a bit of time off 5k and 10k distances.

    Thanks and sorry if that's a bit of a ramble

  • I'll try and answer your questions as best I can. Although I am no running expert.

    To answer your first question, yes, the higher your cadence, the less your ground contact time a high cadence also helps prevent over striding and the resulting excessive loading forces that causes in general 180 steps per minute is recommended. Although this is disputable if you think your cadence is low, you should first try and raise it by 5 or 10% of course, it's natural for your cadence to go below 180 when you are. For example, warming up or just running fast.

    As a person who is only 175cm tall, I'm not sure I'm best placed to answer your question, so I googled it and came across this thread on a triathlete website and came across this quote from an author

    "My testing has shown that taller runners need the same high turnover as shorter runners. Slower turnover increases the need for vertical displacement (up and down movement), increases use of the sprint muscle fibers (which don't have good endurance), and reduces the energy return of elastic recoil.Learn more about this in my book The Triathlete's Guide to Run Training or my DVD Evolution Running: Run Faster with Fewer Injuries ( An exerpt from an article explains in more detail below.


    My apologies, I can't yet post links to where I got the above post

    To answer your final question, you are right, some aspects of your VO2 Max are limited by your genetics, but it is still possible to increase yours through training properly. I'm by no means a great runner and only recently just getting back into it after a bit of a break. All I can say is it can take years to reach your peak. Although it gets harder the older you get, it's possible you need a different training plan to help you progress the Garmin ones are okay for beginners. Personally, though I prefer to do their heart rate base plans but unfortunately, they are only available through the Connect website.

  • Interesting article on cadence, worth a read. Another poster, @adrian522 recommended this to me previously when I had similar questions.

  • I really wouldn’t be too concerned about your cadence, at that tall I think a cadence of 180 would mean you would be hooting along. So long as you’re not overstriding it’s probably fine.

    Its also good to monitor your vert oscillation so you’re not wasting energy bounding along. Concentrate on pulling the road under you with your foot instead of pushing it down

    on the VO2 max, I would say that you may need to tweak your training. Do you do intervals?

  • Thanks to all.

    Slideways, I try and do some speed work which is usually either 10x400m with 60 seconds walking recovery, 6x800m with 90 seconds jogged recovery, 5x1km with 90 seconds jogged recovery.

    Is that what you mean by intervals? For clarity, it would be either of those 3, not all at once! I'd also do a 2km warm up slow jog and cool down with that. My 400m, 800m and 1km, and 1 mile times have not improved in last 9 months.

    I have found that if I do more than about 1 session like this per week I get pain in my calfs, have been to physio who said it's "post tib" and gave me some strengthening work.

    The current garmin 10k programme I'm doing has none of this speed work so I do drop out one of the garmin sessions occasionally for my own speed work. It also has no long easy run... The only easy run per week is a 6km one.

    Next weeks garmin programme (over 7 days) is

    Day 1: 3.2km easy, 6.4km @ 4.30, 3.2km easy,

    Day 2: 6.4km easy

    Day 3: 1.6km easy,

    200 m fast as can, 600m hard, 1.6km @ 4.45, 1.6km recover, repeat x 3

    Day 4: Hills, 1.6km easy,

    400m uphill hard, 400 m down moderate, jog recover 60 seconds, repeat x8

    1.6km cool down

    I have also been for a full fitness assessment /vo2 max etc the lot (got this for free would not have paid for it as I don't need it!) and all of my numbers were good apart from ground contact time/reaction time to spring back up when dropping and I've been given a lot of single leg jump type work to do.

    I'm very comfortable at high cadence when I run a bit harder, so last night I did 15km at 4.25per km pace with cadence of 175 and that's comfortable /natural/ I don't even think about cadence. But it feels absolutely horrible cadence if I do an easy run slower than 5min per km or even sometimes 5.30 per km etc. My vertical oscillating was 8.7. This means I'm propelling myself too far upwards rather than forward?

    I've said this on here before and not sure to what extend its relevant or just an excuse, but I'm almost 100kg and 6 foot 3... I feel like my cardio system has a long way to go but isn't really improving (eg I can run at say a little over 3min per km pace for a short burst but can't sustain it, so I can only hit around 3.15 per km for 400m, and only hit around 3.35 per km for 1k, but again can't sustain that for the mile.... But also suspect if I lost 20kg I'd improve times (but I'm not willing to do this, I'm not carrying any excess weight at the moment really).

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  • Should have added this to my last post but forgot until now.

    As we all know anecdotal evidence is the best form of evidence 😄

    I've been making more of a conscious effort to increase my cadence from around 160 to between 170 to 180 steps per minute. Before when my cadence was low I found I was suffering from a painful Achilles in my left foot so far since increasing my cadence I have not had any pain in my Achilles I only have some mild muscle soreness post run and my speed has improved.

    Although the above article is right 180 might not be a magic number it can help prevent overstriding and the associated injury risks that presents that is why it is recommended as a target.

    Post edited by Adversarial on

  • Does anyone know if there are any Irish spring marathons on the cards?

  • I don't know of any that have advertised yet but going on the number of Autumn marathons which have gone ahead or are going ahead in the coming weeks then I'd say you are fairly guaranteed a few. Assuming that is you're not expecting a big city one like Dublin.

  • What’s your 5k time? What’s your VO2Max? How old are you?

    Is there a danger of ‘paralysis by analysis’ here? Running is a simple enough game. Have you considered joining a club and/or training with others?

  • Limerick is the best bet.

    Conn is sold out based on previous years rolling over.

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  • Over analysing, sure yeah it's possible. I haven't really done any analysing to be honest before now and just noting that my times are no longer improving and wonder if that sort of plateau is normal or I need a new approach to my training. That's all I'm really asking, the rest re cadence etc was just some other things I wondered about.

    5k time is 20. 05 from early this year, just running around the local streets etc by myself, crossing roads and so on. Reckon if pushed right now I'd only manage about 21 or just under. Back then I was doing 1km repeats at 3.50 handy enough, 90 seconds recovery, now I'm struggling to to do the same thing in 4 mins.

    Vo2 51 per machine /wearing the mask etc (garmin watch says 57!).

    Age is early 40s.

    Don't really have set times for running so a club or others would be difficult for me, I can run at 7am or 11pm or morning or afternoon if I get a chance.

  • You probably need to ditch that Garmin plan. Is the plan you posted is correct, then you are running 3 "workouts" and just 1 easy run this week - that correct? Easy running should be 60-80% of your weekly total. Say you're running 5 days a week, 3-4 of those days should be just easy running - at a pace that is embarrassingly slow. There's a lot of improvements that can be made to your times without worrying about cadence, VO2 and other stuff like that. They come into play when you looking for marginal improvements. Consistent easy running is where you'll improve most

  • About 5. 30per km, some days a bit slower, some days around 5.20

  • Yes that is correct, I have one easy run of 6km per week and the rest is a bit harder stuff

  • Edit above, 1 easy, the other 3 are called steady state, tempo, goal pace repeats (but bizarrely the goal pace repeats are not at the goal pace I've set for the plan!).

    Some weeks one of this will be dropped for hills, or "super sets" (that run hard for 200m, hard for 600m etc)

  • And the training pace calculator that a lot of people have used with those plans can be accessed here

  • I agree with Treviso above - your easy pace is fairly easy alright (although I wouldn't be afraid to slow some of it down a bit more), it's just that you're not doing enough easy stuff in relation to the sessions. I aim for at least 80% of my mileage being easy.

  • Thanks all, I will do that starting tomorrow. 1 hard run per week of speed work and 4 easy runs. Is there any significant benefit to increasing my weekly mileage from around 45km at the moment or is this sufficient to just stick to for a few months? Although at very slow paces I might struggle to find the time to increase the mileage too much

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  • Thanks, grateful for that and I've enough now to go away for a few months so don't want to drag this out too much but just I note that the calculator gives me speed work suggestions of times I am nowhere near capable of running.... Hopefully that's something that will improve in the future but I feel I will never hit some of the paces set out there (eg 4.48 for the mile but I can only run it in 6 now and that's all out and gasping afterwards).

  • Don’t worry, you wouldn’t be running a mile at that pace - much shorter reps.

  • There are real benefits in increasing mileage as long as you are able to recover from it. If you're doing too much and get injured it obviously will set you back, so it's a risk vs. reward equation.

    Having said that, increasing mileage for your easy runs is usually a beneficial thing. There are a few rules of thumb on how much you should increase your weekly distance (e.g. by no more than 10% a week, or by no more km that the number of days per week you are running) but in the end we only ever know afterwards if it was beneficial or not.

  • Question re footwear as I’m going to buy new shoes this week - I over pronate so have always just bought ASICS Gel Kayanos stability shoes through the years.

    Have got a little more serious over last year (main focus is half marathon distance but doing in a 5k in a couple of weeks and hoping for a PB sub 20). I’ve been reading a little and see people describing certain shoes as ‘fast’ - with the exception of the Nike Vaporflys or other carbon plate shoes is there certain ‘fast’ shoes that could help knock seconds off a 5k?

  • Before responding to this can I ask why do you specify "with the exception of carbon plated shoes"? Is that an assumption of massive price tag or a lack of desire to wear carbon plated shoes? The reason I ask is it will help direct the response to you...plenty of good value carbon plated options that don't cost an arm and a leg.

  • No experience of these myself but a light shoe I've seen on their website a few times which doesn't suit me as its described as for over pronation which might work for you

  • Not going to recommend any specific brand of shoe, but maybe give you something to think about before you pull the trigger on a new pair.

    One of the key things in a "faster shoe is weight. The less weight you have to carry the better. Kayano are a heavy shoe.

    Traditionally for races people would have worn" racing flats" (pre Vaporfly) which were a lower profile and also lightweight.

    Whether any specific shoe can actually make you faster is a bit debated, but some can certainly make you more efficient and as a result may help you sustain a given pace longer.

    The newer carbon plated shoes use a different foam and is reported to give approx 85% energy return as opposed to traditional 65/70% with Eva foam. The carbon is more to give support to the stack height of the foam, as they would be to unstable without it.

    As for stability for over pronation, well that's more of a marketing plot and has absolutely no merit at all.

  • "As for stability for over pronation, well that's more of a marketing plot and has absolutely no merit at all." @Ceepo is it really?

    I'd did one of those pronation tests and over pronate and have tended to look for trainers that offer stability. Is it really just a ploy as it does limit the range that you can look at and does add a bit of expense.

    I'd be interested in finding out why you think it's just a marketing ploy? When I looked at the video analysis of my running gait I could really see that my ankles rolled significantly and with an over-pronation shoe (tried a few on) that this was corrected.

  • Elites pronate...and they ain't racing in stability shoes!

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  • Just from personal experience, so YMMV, but I was getting calf injuries in stability shoes. Tried many different pairs from different brands and still had the same issues, even though the running shop kept telling me that I'd need stability shoes. Did my own research and changed to lightweight neutral shoes and my calf issues have disappeared.