How to improve stride length for speed 🚀 

 

As it’s raining and I can’t run 😭 I’ve gone into detail on this one, it’s long and boring for most but feel free to take a read and any questions fire away. 

 

If you have a high cadence and low stride length your working hard to only cover a short distance.....right? 

 

So speed is - cadence ( how often you hit the floor ) x stride length.

 

Remember we’re looking for 170+ even at slower speeds. 

 

Ever noticed when your running next to someone they are making it look easy and you look/feel like your running flat out, that’s partly down to stride length. 

 

They are just covering more distance per stride. 

 

I’m always working on myself with the help of technology to measure certain metrics. Just a few years ago I was running in the low 160’s and with a big stride length meaning a lot of over stride big heel strike and I was always injured. 

 

Now I’m always around 170 whether I’m going at a 7 min mile or 10 minute mile, and touch wood haven’t been injured for a long time and training well. It’s not just running style, there are lots of factors from nutrition to lifestyle to conditioning work. **if your an ultra runner your will have different running mechanics. 

 

Also my style is not perfect just I love running and strive to be the best I can. 

 

These elites runners go off the marathon line at a 4.50 mile pace but make it look effortless because they have a 180/190 cadence and 2 meter stride length. 

 

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So how to open up your stride length to go faster 🚀 

 

Same effort, less impact, more efficient and cover more distance. This goes completely hand in hand with cadence so make sure you read that post first. 

 

A lot of people have a great engine just not the best running economy.

 

It’s easier to improve this than you think, you need to get used to running fast and one of the easiest way is to incorporate strides/acceleration into your plan. 

 

Strides are 100m or so efforts where you start at a jog and build up to around 95% of your max speed then gradually slow down. One stride should take around 25-30 seconds with a full recovery between I usually recommend a 3 minute easy effort or a 1 minute standing recovery see Pic below.

 

You can start with 4 strides and after a few weeks take it up to 6. There is no fitness benefit to reducing the recovery time so don’t rush them, strides are short and fast so shouldn’t be overly difficult. 

 

Make sure you stay relaxed during your stride and focus on good form. 

 

* Head up, chest up, eyes on the horizon with a quick light stride. 

 

 

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When should you run strides...? 

 

There are a few times you can run strides, firstly after an easy run think of it as a dynamic stretch. They help increase range of motion, work on leg turnover and subtly improve running form and help you get used to really fast running. 

 

At the end of a long run it can help shake out some of the tightness to help you feel better for your next run. In this situation personally I like to “ finish fast” so speed up the last mile. 

 

You ever see people at a race running around and doing sprints thinking these guys are bonkers, I thought the same in the past. But you race after an easy run to loosen up you can incorporate some strides to prepare your body for the faster effort and allow you to start at race pace. 

 

During your stride you may get up all the way up to 200 SPM ( steps per minute ) your also going to really open up the hips with a high knee drive and strong back kick. It’s going to fire up those fast twitch muscle fibres to be more coordinated and iron out any form flaws you may have. It’s hard to run fast poorly and you want that sprint running form to translate into your 5k, 10k etc pace and make every other slower pace more efficient. 

 

It’s a matter of training that movement pattern but also training your muscles to develop that kind of power and stride length to translate at all speeds of running. 

 

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Running drills 

 

Some drills that also help with improving stride length is running high knees just 20 seconds x 1-4 with an easy recovery you can do during your warm up. A high strong knee drive will allow you to cover more distance and land closer to your centre of mass rather than kick out to the front. You want to focus on push off force and the back kick bringing the rear foot towards your bum. 

 

When focusing on lifting your heel and trying to kick your bum the higher speed you go the higher the back kick will be. 

 

Of course being more flexible by doing hip flexor stretches will allow you to run better. 

 

So key points to take away.

 

* Perform strides 

* High knee drills 

* Focus on form during strides 

* Get flexible and strong by doing long stride lunges stretching out the hip flexors and hip flexor stretches. 

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