Call them footfalls, strides, steps -- now you know how to run a turnover drill, but what is that magic number you should aim to achieve? The average beginning runner takes 165 to 175 steps per minute, while the average elite runner, male or female, gets about 180 steps per minute. Over the course of a 10K race, this increase in footfalls gives the faster runners about a 984-foot (300-meter) advantage [source: Pfitzinger].
Ryan Ross, a triathlon coach in Kansas City, says that cadence training is crucial to reducing running injuries and maintaining velocity over longer distances. "One way to monitor your running cadence is with a clip-on metronome that beeps at the appropriate training cadence," he reports. "I have athletes test their cadence, and then we set the metronome to about three beats faster than their current cadence."
Turnover drills are a classic means of improving speed. These concentrated stretches of training activate your fast-twitch muscle fibers, which will "remember" that feeling and respond during a race, helping you without additional effort. Also, turnover drills will do more than just improve your speed. They offer an excellent opportunity to focus on maintaining proper form. Focus on a couple of areas at a time -- don't try to improve everything all at once.
While performing your turnovers, remember that these drills are low-impact, low-stress exercises designed to improve speed by making your running smooth and easy. Don't exhaust yourself, or the benefits will be lost. Persevere, and you'll be rewarded with faster race times and a smoother form.