• late 30s
  • 1.8metre
  • 85kg

after spending about 1.5 months running at around

  • 7.5 min / km
  • 153 spm
  • avg heart rate 155 to 160 bpm
  • vertical oscillation 11cm
  • 10km per run
  • 30km+ per week,

i've been working on speed and trying to increase spm (ideally 180spm), by doing these 2 things:

  • keeping stride length low
  • reducing vertical oscilation to below 10cm

it's really awkward at first trying to force myself into a difference cadence, but there were significant improvements. by forcing my cadence i was able to reach

  • 170 spm,
  • with 9cm vertical oscillation,
  • and my average heart rate dropped to 150 bpm+
  • while my speed went up to around 7min / km, for a 10km run.

I'm not sure why, deliberately increasing spm and decreasing vertical movement not only made the run faster, it seems to have made the effort much easier on my heart.

but i am starting to develop pain on the outside of my right knee. i think somehow my running form changed, or maybe increasing the speed somehow aggravated an already existing issue, but i never had iliotibial band pain when running at low speeds. About 4 years ago i had a similar issue when i didn't know much about running and ran fast (but short distances, like around 2km to 4km), but it went away when i switched to longer distance (>10km) at much lower pace. Somehow increasing speed tends to give me iliotibial band pain on my right knee.

Does anyone have similar issues? Should I stop working on cadence and switch back to slow running? But I want to run faster, spending more than 1 hour per run seems ineffective if I can only run 10km each run (because of the low speed, it's hard for me to go higher distances without spending large amounts of time running). I've been running at 150+ spm for a very long time, and I think it's the reason why I am slow, but it seems very hard to go anywhere near 180spm.


2 Answers 2


Disclaimer: I'm not an expert and you need to ask a good physio/sports-doctor.

In my experience (also backed up by that of many others, just check bodybuilding related forums), the body adapts to whatever activity you regularly engage it in. This is one of the major reasons people are often advised to switch up their workouts/routine when they plateau at a certain level. Just changing things can be surprisingly effective.

In the context of your problem: you've adapted to whatever style of running you were engaged in. Presumably a lower cadence implies longer distance per step and knees rising higher. This is what your muscles and tendons/ligaments were used to. A faster cadence works the system differently.

I'd suggest treating the faster cadence business as a "new" thing, and starting out small (short distance bouts at the new cadence) and only increasing slowly.

Other things you might also need to check: if your striking (forefoot/heel first) is still the same, shoe cushioning (very soft is bad for high cadence) (try medium if not hard), if shoes are designed for your pronation type, and your "balance" (try running on loose sand).

Other things you need to do: rice (rest/ice/compress/elevate) the bad knee, knee strengthening exercises, core strengthening exercises.

Good luck and see a physio, ideally one experienced with running. It does sound like ITBS.

PS: I've had itbs for similar reasons, as well as from switching hard and medium soles frequently, and from increasing distance too quickly.

PPS: listen to your body, don't push your way through these symptoms - learn to recognise/distinguish the pain of tiredness/exhaustion from an actual potential physical problem. You can push trough the former but need to respect the latter.

Oh, and stretch plenty. Before and after. Even during if you feel stiff.


I'd see a local PT for an assessment. I'm only able to help you so much without seeing you in person. However this sounds like ITBS.

Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS)

enter image description here

  • Iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS) occurs when excessive irritation causes pain at the outside (or lateral) part of the knee.
  • The iliotibial band (ITB), often referred to as the "IT band" is a type of soft tissue that runs along the side of the thigh from the pelvis to the knee. As it approaches the knee, its shape thickens as it crosses a prominent area of the thigh (femur) bone, called the lateral femoral condyle.

  • Near the pelvis, it attaches to 2 important hip muscles, the tensor fascia latae (TFL) and the gluteus maximus.

Source: https://www.moveforwardpt.com/SymptomsConditionsDetail.aspx

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.