MAF and Cadence

(New Jersey)

Hi! Thank you for answering questions! I am learning more about MAF and have tried a few runs controlling my heart rate - roughly a 10:45 min mile pace. I am able to keep my HR low (135 target - I am a 48F with many years of running experience), but my cadence is also lower than I like. I have read that an ideal cadence is 180 - I typically shoot for 175 spm. On my MAF runs, my average cadence is 162 and if I have a faster turnover, my heart rate goes up. Should I shorten my stride even more and try to keep cadence up and HR low or focus only on what feels right for the target HR? Is it impossible to have a target 180 cadence and a low HR when just starting MAF?

Nicole's reply:
Hi, thanks for your question. Having a slower cadence when MAF training is not uncommon and new MAF'ers often get frustrated about it.
In the early stages of MAF training, you will probably be running much slower than usual, your body is learning to adapt to the new pace and you are probably checking your watch every minute or so. All these can contribute to you running in a slightly unnatural or unfamiliar way which in turn will affect your cadence. The ideal cadence is quite subjective but the general consensus seems to be that between 170-180 is the most efficient. Generally I wouldn't worry too much about it and instead focus on your HR and running relaxed and comfortably. As your MAF pace increases, you will find that your cadence does too.

If you want to get your cadence back up, here's what you can try:
1. Relax. Try not to keep looking at your watch, relax your shoulders and enjoy your run.
2. Take smaller steps. Have a look at "Chi Running" which is fantastic in showing you how to keep good form and how to keep your cadence up, even at very slow paces.
3. Use a metronome. I bought a cheap one off eBay and clipped it to my shorts. It worked brilliantly for teaching me the rhythm to hold. It eventually broke but I now seem to be able to keep the same rhythm without it.
4. Do some down hill running. That way you can pick up your pace and cadence but keep your HR low.
Best of luck and I hope that helps :)

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