Calculating Steps Per Minute

Racewalking is a long-distance discipline within the sport of athletics. Although it is a foot race, it is different from running in that one foot must appear to be in contact with the ground at all times. This is assessed by race judges, making it the most subjective of the disciplines in athletics. Typically held on either roads or on running tracks, common distances vary from 3000 metres (1.8 mi) up to 100 kilometres (62.1 mi).

Calculating Your Steps Per Minute (SPM) Cadence

rw_steps_per_minute.png

A world-class racewalker's steps per minute (spm) cadence is anywhere from 180 to 220 spm. That is right in line with "It's not how long your legs are, it's how fast you move them."

As you can see in the chart it doesn't take much improvement in either your steps per minute (spm) or your stride length to trim seconds off of your pace. I have a saying I keep spouting. "One inch is worth 12 seconds a mile". John Soucheck has heard me say that too many times. Twelve seconds, now that is a lot of improvement for a little inch. Two steps a minute faster and that is a few seconds.

One (1) inch is not much on the ruler but is a lot in time. Look at the illustration above (ignore the 7.06 number for now). You can see that at 170 steps per minute (spm), the pace for a stride length of 3'1" is 10:04. Increasing your stride length an additional 1 inch results in a pace of 9:48. That is a 14 second improvement. Again, not bad for a little inch.

rw.OneInch.png

How to calculate any of the three values in the SPM formula

NOTE: 2019 Update - With the a advent of smart watches and GPS. These modern watches, along with smart apps on your phones can do a lot of the calculations below for you. This is "Old School" at this point in tome

Of the three items in the SPM formula ( pace, cadence, and stride length ), pace is very easy to calculate if you have a measured mile. You simply start your stopwatch at the start of the mile and stop it at the end to get your time. Whatever the watch reads that's how fast you went. But what were your steps per minutes and what was your average stride length?

Next, it is far easier to calculate you steps per minute than it is to calculate the length of each step. All you have to do is count your steps for a mile, divide by the time, and you have your average spm. So I'm sure you saying right about now "You've got to be nuts! How can you keep track of all those steps?" How?

I have developed a manual method and over the years refined it down to the following by using a stopwatch. You only have to count 20 steps and read the stopwatch. Do this periodically during a workout to get the average that you are stepping. With your 20 step count and your one mile pace use the chart below to determine your average stride length. There are also several stopwatches on the market that can be programmed to do this math for you. These watches can do lots of timing related functions.

I have refined my step counting over the years to the following:

Starting when my left foot strikes the ground and carrying the stopwatch in my right hand. I start the count at zero and increase the count with each strike of my left foot. As soon as I reach 10 steps. I stop the watch and read the time. With 10 steps taken by my right foot that's 20 steps. If time for those 20 steps is 7.05 sec, I'm taking around 170 steps a minute (SPM) based on the Steps Per Minute Chart below. I've found in most training sessions the step count remains pretty even. It's usually the stride length that decreases with fatigue. That is where the strength and endurance training comes in.

Over time you'll arrive at several 20 step times that you use as a goal in training and won't need to carry the chart while on the go. Example: for a 90:00 session I will use 7.0 as a 20 step target to stay at that pace. That's around 170 spm a 9:00 to 9:30 pace for me depending on my technique. One goal is that National/World class 200-220 spm number. Frank Alongi stated that elite walkers "start their training a 180 spm". That quote is best read with a thick Italian accent for best effect.

Using the chart, I realized that even at my 6'4"+ height I have a relatively short stride compared to a world class walker. My stride length in 1992-93 ranged (in races) from 3'4" to 3'6". My spm was about 180 spm in races up to 10 miles. So you can see the fastest that I could possibly do a 10 mile race was 1:24:00. That was my PR up to 1996 (age 42).

So I went on an "increase my stride length campaign". And, it worked. I was able to increase my stride length to around 3'8" in the course of a year. Now that is only a 1 or 2 inch improvement. But remember "One inch is worth up to 12 seconds per mile". And my PR now is 1:21:12 (8:13 pace). Knowing my spm average during the race I look on the SMP Chart and see that, indeed a 8:13 average is an increase of 1 inch.

How To Get That 1 Inch Or More Increase? And Where Does It Come From?

rw.hipandfoot.png

Where does it come from? It is behind you and around your hips. The biggest technique gains that the average walker can make is by improving what they are doing with the hips and feet.

First the feet. At a national championship, notice the top walkers. Their rear foot doesn't leave the ground until it has rolled right up to the end of the toes, before the end of the propulsion phase. The front foot of most average walkers has landed long before the rear foot gets done with the propulsion phase. Notice in the illustration that the foot of walker A still has about 3 inches to go before rolling up on his toes. Now if 1 inch is worth up to 12 seconds a mile, that walker is leaving almost a half minute or 30 seconds on the ground! That could be the difference between an 8:30 mile vs a 9:00 mile – Quite a Big Difference!

So that adds up to 3 inches of improvement. Want some more? You will find it in your hip action. Better hip extension combined with the inches from better foot action can really add up. The average walker can add up to 3 inches to their stride length with better hip extension and the strength to hold it. That 3 inches plus the 3 inches from better foot action adds up to a one minute improvement – Now that's walking. Put that together with the endurance and strength to hold this new technique and there you go., A one minute per mile PR. It can and does work. Now back to the roads ;-)

Better hip extension plus better rear foot action equals faster times.

Steps Per Minute Mile Pace Chart

This chart shows the mile pace for a given step per minutes and a specific stride length.

SPM[20] 3' 3'1" 3'2" 3'3" 3'4" 3'5" 3'6" 3'7" 3'8" 3'9" 3'10" 3'11" 4'
140 8.57 12:34 12:13 11:54 11:36 11:18 11:02 10:46 10:31 10:17 10:03 9:50 9:37 9:25
141 8.51 12:28 12:08 11:49 11:31 11:14 10:57 10:41 10:27 10:12 9:59 9:46 9:33 9:21
142 8.45 12:23 12:03 11:44 11:26 11:09 10:52 10:37 10:22 10:08 9:54 9:41 9:29 9:17
143 8.39 12:18 11:58 11:39 11:21 11:04 10:48 10:32 10:18 10:04 9:50 9:37 9:25 9:13
144 8.33 12:13 11:53 11:34 11:16 11:00 10:43 10:28 10:13 10:00 9:46 9:33 9:21 9:10
145 8.28 12:08 11:48 11:29 11:12 10:55 10:39 10:24 10:09 9:55 9:42 9:29 9:17 9:06
146 8.22 12:03 11:43 11:25 11:07 10:50 10:35 10:19 10:05 9:51 9:38 9:26 9:14 9:02
147 8.16 11:58 11:38 11:20 11:03 10:46 10:30 10:15 10:01 9:47 9:34 9:22 9:10 8:58
148 8.11 11:53 11:34 11:15 10:58 10:42 10:26 10:11 9:57 9:43 9:30 9:18 9:06 8:55
149 8.05 11:48 11:29 11:11 10:54 10:37 10:22 10:07 9:53 9:39 9:26 9:14 9:02 8:51
SPM[20] 3' 3'1" 3'2" 3'3" 3'4" 3'5" 3'6" 3'7" 3'8" 3'9" 3'10" 3'11" 4'
150 8.00 11:44 11:24 11:06 10:49 10:33 10:18 10:03 9:49 9:36 9:23 9:10 8:59 8:48
151 7.95 11:39 11:20 11:02 10:45 10:29 10:14 9:59 9:45 9:32 9:19 9:07 8:55 8:44
152 7.89 11:34 11:15 10:58 10:41 10:25 10:10 9:55 9:41 9:36 9:15 9:03 8:52 8:41
153 7.84 11:30 11:11 10:53 10:37 10:21 10:06 9:51 9:37 9:24 9:12 9:00 8:48 8:37
154 7.79 11:25 11:07 10:49 10:32 10:17 10:02 9:47 9:34 9:21 9:08 8:56 8:45 8:34
155 7.74 11:21 11:02 10:45 10:28 10:13 9:58 9:43 9:30 9:17 9:05 8:53 8:41 8:30
156 7.69 11:16 10:58 10:41 10:24 10:09 9:54 9:40 9:26 9:13 9:01 8:49 8:38 8:27
157 7.64 11:12 10:54 10:37 10:20 10:05 9:50 9:36 9:23 9:10 8:58 8:46 8:35 8:24
158 7.59 11:08 10:50 10:33 10:16 10:01 9:46 9:32 9:19 9:06 8:54 8:43 8:31 8:21
159 7.55 11:04 10:46 10:29 10:13 9:57 9:43 9:29 9:16 9:03 8:51 8:39 8:28 8:18
SPM[20] 3' 3'1" 3'2" 3'3" 3'4" 3'5" 3'6" 3'7" 3'8" 3'9" 3'10" 3'11" 4'
160 7.50 11:00 10:42 10:25 10:09 9:54 9:39 9:25 9:12 8:59 8:48 8:36 8:25 8:15
161 7.44 10:55 10:37 10:21 10:05 9:50 9:36 9:22 9:09 8:56 8:45 8:33 8:22 8:12
162 7.40 10:51 10:34 10:17 10:01 9:46 9:32 9:18 9:05 8:52 8:41 8:30 8:19 8:09
163 7.36 10:48 10:30 10:13 9:57 9:43 9:28 9:15 9:02 8:49 8:38 8:27 8:16 8:06
164 7.31 10:43 10:26 10:09 9:54 9:39 9:25 9:12 8:58 8:46 8:35 8:24 8:13 8:03
165 7.27 10:40 10:22 10:06 9:50 9:36 9:21 9:08 8:55 8:43 8:31 8:21 8:10 8:00
166 7.23 10:36 10:18 10:02 9:46 9:32 9:18 9:04 8:52 8:40 8:28 8:18 8:07 7:57
167 7.18 10:32 10:15 9:58 9:43 9:29 9:15 9:01 8:49 8:37 8:25 8:15 8:04 7:54
168 7.14 10:28 10:11 9:55 9:40 9:25 9:12 8:58 8:46 8:34 8:22 8:12 8:01 7:51
169 7.09 10:24 10:07 9:51 9:36 9:22 9:08 8:55 8:43 8:30 8:19 8:09 7:58 7:48
SPM[20] 3' 3'1" 3'2" 3'3" 3'4" 3'5" 3'6" 3'7" 3'8" 3'9" 3'10" 3'11" 4'
170 7.06 10:21 10:04 9:48 9:33 9:19 9:05 8:52 8:39 8:27 8:16 8:06 7:55 7:45
171 7.01 10:17 10:00 9:45 9:30 9:15 9:02 8:49 8:36 8:25 8:13 8:03 7:52 7:43
172 6.97 10:13 9:57 9:41 9:26 9:12 8:58 8:46 8:33 8:22 8:11 8:00 7:50 7:40
173 6.93 10:10 9:54 9:38 9:23 9:09 8:55 8:43 8:30 8:19 8:08 7:57 7:47 7:37
174 6.89 10:06 9:50 9:34 9:19 9:06 8:52 8:40 8:28 8:16 8:05 7:54 7:45 7:35
175 6.85 10:03 9:46 9:31 9:16 9:03 8:49 8:37 8:25 8:13 8:03 7:52 7:42 7:32
176 6.82 10:00 9:43 9:28 9:13 9:00 8:46 8:34 8:22 8:10 8:00 7:49 7:39 7:30
177 6.77 9:56 9:40 9:25 9:10 8:57 8:43 8:31 8:19 8:07 7:57 7:46 7:37 7:27
178 6.74 9:53 9:37 9:22 9:07 8:54 8:40 8:28 8:16 8:04 7:54 7:44 7:34 7:25
179 6.69 9:49 9:33 9:18 9:04 8:51 8:37 8:25 8:13 8:02 7:52 7:41 7:31 7:22
SPM[20] 3' 3'1" 3'2" 3'3" 3'4" 3'5" 3'6" 3'7" 3'8" 3'9" 3'10" 3'11" 4'
180 6.66 9:46 9:30 9:15 9:01 8:48 8:34 8:22 8:10 7:59 7:49 7:39 7:29 7:19
181 6.62 9:43 9:27 9:12 8:58 8:45 8:32 8:19 8:08 7:57 7:46 7:36 7:27 7:17
182 6.59 9:40 9:24 9:09 8:55 8:42 8:29 8:17 8:05 7:54 7:44 7:34 7:24 7:15
183 6.56 9:37 9:21 9:06 8:52 8:39 8:26 8:14 8:03 7:51 7:41 7:31 7:22 7:12
184 6.52 9:34 9:18 9:03 8:49 8:36 8:24 8:12 8:00 7:49 7:39 7:28 7:19 7:10
185 6.48 9:30 9:15 9:00 8:46 8:33 8:21 8:09 7:57 7:46 7:36 7:26 7:17 7:08
186 6.44 9:27 9:12 8:57 8:43 8:31 8:18 8:06 7:55 7:44 7:34 7:24 7:15 7:06
187 6.41 9:24 9:09 8:54 8:40 8:28 8:15 8:03 7:52 7:42 7:31 7:21 7:12 7:03
188 6.38 9:21 9:06 8:52 8:38 8:25 8:13 8:01 7:50 7:39 7:29 7:19 7:10 7:01
189 6.34 9:18 9:03 8:49 8:35 8:22 8:10 7:58 7:47 7:36 7:27 7:17 7:07 6:58
SPM[20] 3' 3'1" 3'2" 3'3" 3'4" 3'5" 3'6" 3'7" 3'8" 3'9" 3'10" 3'11" 4'
190 6.31 9:15 9:00 8:46 8:33 8:20 8:07 7:56 7:45 7:34 7:24 7:15 7:05 6:57
191 6.27 9:12 8:57 8:43 8:30 8:17 8:05 7:54 7:42 7:31 7:22 7:12 7:03 6:54
192 6.25 9:10 8:55 8:40 8:27 8:15 8:03 7:51 7:40 7:29 7:19 7:10 7:01 6:52
193 6.22 9:07 8:52 8:38 8:24 8:12 8:00 7:48 7:37 7:27 7:18 7:07 6:58 6:50
194 6.18 9:04 8:49 8:35 8:22 8:09 7:57 7:46 7:35 7:25 7:15 7:06 6:57 6:48
195 6.15 9:01 8:46 8:33 8:19 8:07 7:55 7:43 7:33 7:22 7:13 7:03 6:54 6:46
196 6.11 8:58 8:43 8:30 8:17 8:04 7:52 7:41 7:31 7:20 7:10 7:01 6:52 6:43
197 6.08 8:55 8:41 8:27 8:14 8:02 7:50 7:39 7:28 7:18 7:09 6:59 6:50 6:42
198 6.06 8:53 8:39 8:25 8:12 8:00 7:48 7:37 7:26 7:16 7:06 6:57 6:48 6:40
199 6.02 8:50 8:36 8:22 8:09 7:57 7:45 7:34 7:24 7:13 7:04 6:55 6:46 6:37
SPM[20] 3' 3'1" 3'2" 3'3" 3'4" 3'5" 3'6" 3'7" 3'8" 3'9" 3'10" 3'11" 4'
200 6.00 8:48 8:33 8:20 8:07 7:55 7:43 7:32 7:22 7:12 7:02 6:52 6:44 6:36
201 5.97 8:45 8:31 8:17 8:04 7:52 7:41 7:30 7:19 7:09 7:00 6:51 6:42 6:34
202 5.93 8:42 8:28 8:15 8:02 7:50 7:39 7:28 7:17 7:07 6:58 6:49 6:40 6:31
203 5.91 8:40 8:25 8:12 8:00 7:48 7:36 7:25 7:15 7:05 6:56 6:46 6:38 6:30
204 5.88 8:37 8:23 8:10 7:57 7:45 7:34 7:23 7:13 7:03 6:54 6:45 6:36 6:28
205 5.85 8:35 8:21 8:07 7:55 7:43 7:32 7:21 7:11 7:01 6:52 6:43 6:34 6:26
206 5.82 8:32 8:18 8:05 7:52 7:41 7:30 7:19 7:09 6:59 6:49 6:40 6:32 6:24
207 5.80 8:30 8:16 8:03 7:51 7:39 7:27 7:17 7:07 6:57 6:48 6:39 6:30 6:22
208 5.76 8:27 8:13 8:00 7:48 7:37 7:25 7:15 7:04 6:55 6:46 6:37 6:28 6:21
209 5.74 8:25 8:11 7:58 7:46 7:34 7:23 7:13 7:03 6:53 6:44 6:35 6:27 6:19
SPM[20] 3' 3'1" 3'2" 3'3" 3'4" 3'5" 3'6" 3'7" 3'8" 3'9" 3'10" 3'11" 4'
210 5.70 8:22 8:09 7:56 7:43 7:32 7:21 7:10 7:00 6:51 6:42 6:33 6:25 6:17
211 5.68 8:20 8:06 7:54 7:42 7:30 7:19 7:09 6:58 6:49 6:40 6:31 6:23 6:15
212 5.66 8:18 8:04 7:51 7:39 7:28 7:17 7:06 6:57 6:47 6:38 6:30 6:21 6:13
213 5.62 8:15 8:02 7:49 7:37 7:26 7:15 7:04 6:55 6:45 6:36 6:27 6:19 6:12
214 5.60 8:13 8:00 7:47 7:35 7:24 7:13 7:03 6:52 6:43 6:34 6:25 6:18 6:10
215 5.58 8:11 7:57 7:45 7:33 7:22 7:11 7:00 6:51 6:41 6:33 6:24 6:16 6:08
216 5.56 8:09 7:55 7:43 7:31 7:19 7:09 6:58 6:49 6:39 6:31 6:22 6:14 6:06
217 5.52 8:06 7:53 7:40 7:28 7:18 7:07 6:57 6:47 6:37 6:29 6:21 6:12 6:04
218 5.50 8:04 7:51 7:39 7:27 7:16 7:05 6:55 6:45 6:36 6:27 6:19 6:10 6:03
219 5.48 8:02 7:49 7:36 7:25 7:13 7:03 6:53 6:43 6:34 6:25 6:17 6:09 6:01
SPM[20] 3' 3'1" 3'2" 3'3" 3'4" 3'5" 3'6" 3'7" 3'8" 3'9" 3'10" 3'11" 4'
220 5.45 8:00 7:46 7:34 7:22 7:12 7:01 6:51 6:42 6:32 6:24 6:15 6:07 6:00
221 5.42 7:57 7:45 7:32 7:21 7:10 6:59 6:49 6:40 6:30 6:22 6:13 6:06 5:58
222 5.40 7:55 7:42 7:30 7:19 7:08 6:57 6:47 6:38 6:28 6:20 6:12 6:04 5:57
223 5.38 7:53 7:40 7:28 7:16 7:06 6:55 6:45 6:36 6:27 6:18 6:10 6:02 5:55
224 5.35 7:51 7:38 7:26 7:15 7:04 6:54 6:43 6:34 6:25 6:17 6:09 6:01 5:53
225 5.33 7:49 7:36 7:24 7:13 7:02 6:52 6:42 6:33 6:24 6:15 6:07 5:59 5:52
226 5.31 7:47 7:34 7:22 7:11 7:00 6:50 6:40 6:31 6:22 6:13 6:05 5:57 5:50
227 5.28 7:45 7:32 7:20 7:09 6:58 6:48 6:38 6:29 6:20 6:12 6:04 5:56 5:48
228 5.26 7:43 7:30 7:18 7:07 6:57 6:46 6:36 6:27 6:18 6:10 6:02 5:54 5:47
229 5.24 7:41 7:28 7:16 7:05 6:55 6:45 6:35 6:25 6:16 6:09 6:00 5:53 5:45
SPM[20] 3' 3'1" 3'2" 3'3" 3'4" 3'5" 3'6" 3'7" 3'8" 3'9" 3'10" 3'11" 4'
230 5.22 7:39 7:26 7:15 7:03 6:53 6:43 6:33 6:24 6:15 6:07 5:59 5:51 5:44
231 5.19 7:37 7:24 7:13 7:01 6:51 6:41 6:31 6:22 6:13 6:06 5:57 5:50 5:42
232 5.17 7:35 7:22 7:11 7:00 6:49 6:39 6:30 6:21 6:12 6:04 5:56 5:48 5:41
233 5.15 7:33 7:21 7:09 6:58 6:48 6:37 6:28 6:19 6:10 6:02 5:54 5:47 5:40
234 5.12 7:31 7:19 7:07 6:56 6:46 6:36 6:26 6:17 6:09 6:01 5:52 5:45 5:38
235 5.10 7:29 7:17 7:05 6:54 6:44 6:34 6:25 6:16 6:07 5:59 5:51 5:44 5:37
236 5.08 7:27 7:15 7:03 6:52 6:42 6:33 6:23 6:14 6:06 5:58 5:49 5:42 5:35
237 5.06 7:25 7:13 7:01 6:51 6:40 6:31 6:21 6:13 6:04 5:56 5:48 5:41 5:34
238 5.03 7:23 7:11 7:00 6:49 6:39 6:29 6:20 6:11 6:03 5:55 5:47 5:39 5:33
239 5.01 7:21 7:09 6:58 6:47 6:37 6:27 6:18 6:09 6:01 5:53 5:45 5:38 5:31
240 4.99 7:19 7:07 6:57 6:46 6:36 6:26 6:16 6:08 6:00 5:52 5:44 5:37 5:30
SPM[20] 3' 3'1" 3'2" 3'3" 3'4" 3'5" 3'6" 3'7" 3'8" 3'9" 3'10" 3'11" 4'

Note: The world record for the Mile Walk is under 5:30 for the mile. that is haulin'.

Calculating My Step Rate

This is one of the brands of stopwatches and the chart above that I've used over the years for calculating my step rate.

Accusplit

7901 Stoneridge Drive
Suite 350
Pleasanton, CA 94588
USA

tel: 800-935-1996

Latitude: 37.690037
Longitude: -121.930222

Links
Listing Info • click here to show or hide more info

from the Accusplit web site

Accusplit has been the leader in the professional stopwatch and timing industry since 1972 with its invention of the first digital stopwatch. The company's name is based on the stopwatch's function of "accurately splitting" the time.

Widely recognized as the professional sports timing brand in the United States, Accusplit has worked with elite athletes, such as Hall of Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith and Olympians Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Dan O'Brien and Ed Burke. The Northern California-based company was the Official Supplier to the Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta in 1996.

Even more information, discussion and comments on this listing.

Just browsing over both books, they look fantastic! I'm a guitarist and uke player for over 25 years and was thinking about writing a ukulele book but you've already written what I think are the best, most comprehensive and thorough books I've ever seen for the instrument. I just might end up buying every book you've written and I'll be giving my highest recommendation for your books to my friends and students. Thank you so much for taking the time to write such great books!Peter Rhee

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