Marching Cadence and Speed

by December 1, 2009 12/1/09

Photo by Pemb Dave

I have always liked fun trivia and details everyone else likes to skip over. One of those little items I like is marching cadence. It makes a hell of a difference when you run the numbers.

The US military uses a 30-inch step. Normal marching cadence is 120 steps per minute. That equals 3.4 miles per hour or a 17.64-minute mile.

Double Time is essentially a jog that uses a cadence of 180 steps per minute. That equals 5.1 miles per hour or a 11.76-minute mile.

Many readers will note that the Ranger/SF standard is 15 minutes per mile or 4 miles per hour. This is easily attained and maintained for long distances whereas double time is not.

A combination of Quick Time and Double Time can be used to attain overall speeds of 11-15 minutes per mile. This takes some practice. Start by adding 30-60 seconds of double time every 10-15 minutes of marching and gradually increase it over a period of many weeks.

Do not exceed 5-minute bursts of double time, especially with heavy loads. It is murder on the knees and hips. But it is a required skill for anyone in combat arms so practice it a bit so you know how to do it.

Never make running with a load a significant part of your PT program unless you want to retire early!

About The Author

Nathanael Morrison was a USAF Special Tactics and Pararescue team leader for 15 years before transferring to the US Army. He has written “the most complete book on military specific training ever published,  Military Fitness: A Manual of Special Physical Training.”

He is available to teach or speak on a wide variety of military and special warfare subjects. Visit his web site at

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