How To Use Music To Improve Your Running Stride

Want to improve your running stride? The answer may lie with your music playlist.

One of the best ways to improve your running form is to work on increasing your cadence.

The higher the number of steps taken per minute, the faster you can run, and the less time you spend in the air.

This not only increases your speed but also reduces your injury risk.

So how do you improve your cadence? You have many options: You can perform drills, run with a metronome or even hire a running coach to help you nail proper form.

But one simple and easy way is to simply pay attention to your music playlist.

Would you like to learn how? Then keep on reading.

In today’s article, I’ll delve a little bit deeper into how to use music to improve your running cadence so you can run faster with less injury risk.

Sounds great?

Let’s lace up and dig in.

What Is Running Cadence

First things first, what is cadence, and why does it matter?

Cadence refers to the number of steps you take while running during a specific time and is typically expressed in steps per minute (SPM).

The average cadence for non-elite runners is roughly 155-170 strides per mine—for elite athletes, this is typically around 180-190’s.

The easiest way to find out your cadence is to count the number of times your right foot hits the ground in one minute, then double it to get the total for both feet.

The Importance Of Running Stride

It’s largely believed that increasing cadence can help improve your running technique, increase speed, and lower your risk for injury.

The faster your stride rate, the less you over-stride, thus the faster you’ll run.

That’s not the whole story.

Increasing the number of steps you take while running may reduce the time you spend in the air, which can soften the impact on your muscles and joints, reducing injury risk in the process.

Don’t take my word for it.

Research out of the University of Wisconsin examined the hypothesis of impact reduction forces in runners as a result of increased cadence.

In the end, the researchers reported that mild increases in cadence contribute to drastically less impact on the knee and hip joints.

Still can’t see the connection?

This means that by improving your stride rate, you can definitely reduce the load on your muscles and joints and possibly prevent injury.

There are many ways you can improve your cadence, and one of the best ways by running to music with a BPM that matches your pace.

Let’s explain how this whole process works.


Running Stride and Music

Chances are your current cadence is lower than optimum—unless you’ve already worked on improving it or are really lucky.

If not, then it’s time to bring your cadence up to speedliterally.

Here’s what to do next.

Once you have determined your current cadence, add a faster-paced song to your running playlist so you can keep on improving.

The rule is to do it in a slow and gradual manner. Trying to increase your cadence too fast can, in reality, increase your risk of injury instead of lowering it. That’s bad news.

What’s The Best Running BPM?

Again, this depends on your fitness level, running skill, and training goals.

Making the jump from 150 to 180 spm is not a good idea—even though 180 spm is the ideal stride rate for running.

To help you achieve optimal cadence, run to songs within the 170-180 BPM, so your stride is in sync with the music.

But if your current cadence is slow, which is the case for most beginners, shoot for songs within the 150 to 160 bpm and work it up from there.

The Plan

Once you have figured out your current running leg turnover, choose a playlist, adding 5 to 10 percent to set a new goal running cadence.

For example, if your current leg turnover is 155 steps per minute, a 5 to 10 percent increase would bring it to 163 to 170 SPM, then choose some news songs and repeat. There’s nothing to it but to do it.

Keep in mind that your main goal is to target the new stride rate without putting much thought into it.

How To Make Your Playlist

You can find plenty of running playlists, such as iTunes, JogTunes, and Spotify—which will allow you to search and assemble playlists based on a tune’s beats per minute.

Choose eight to ten songs in a range around your new target stride rate. Then download the tunes (if possible) and add them to your new playlist, either to your phone or various devices once they sync to a music app so you can always access it even if you’re offline.

If you already own a bunch of songs, you can use online resources, like, to determine the beats per minute of your favorites.

The following songs fall within 180 beats per minute.

Next, let’s see how you can actually put this into practice.

Let’s assume that you’re going to run for 40 minutes. Here’s how you’ll plan your running playlist.

Warm-up: Two To three songs

Kick things off with a couple of your favorite tunes for your warm-up. I’d recommend songs that help you find your groove and ease into your workout.

Cadence Training: two-three three songs

Try to keep your new cadence for only short distances during your runs. You’re, after all, training your body to get used to the new stride rate. So don’t chew more than you can swallow.

Instead, adopt the gradual approach

Break and Recovery: One Song

Give your body a break from the drill by opting for a song here to relax and run easy

Cadence Drill: Two songs

Pick another two songs that are within your new cadence range and aim to hit your goal cadence, focusing on short steps and quick feet.

Cooldown – Two to three songs

Finish your run with a few favorites. Simply focus on your form and slowly bring your run to a stop.


As you can see, improving your running cadence can be simple as listening to your favorite songs and trying to sync your stride rate with the tunes.

So sift through your music library and choose the tunes that will motivate you to run.

Please feel free to leave your comments and questions in the section below.

In the meantime, thank you for dropping by.

Keep training strong.

David D.