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1938 Views 4 Replies Latest reply: Dec 4, 2010 9:16 PM by sunsetlizard
sunsetlizard Amateur 11 posts since
Nov 7, 2010
Currently Being Moderated

Dec 3, 2010 8:36 PM

Does Stride Matter?

I’ve been running for about 8 months now and after my first race, I had two family members comment on my stride.  They said it was “too short” and “tentative” and that I was too slow because of it.  They are both experienced runners, one is a former distance runner and the other occasionally runs.  So it got me thinking and researching about stride.

 

I did some research and applied some of it (strength training, stretching) but most everything I have found is for professional/ elite athletes, of which I am not or will ever be. 

 

What I have discovered:

 

  • My legs, in general, behave better if I run outside.  I guess I get distracted, but I “check in” frequently and adjust my stride and my foot strikes according to how my legs feel or the surface.  The outside route I have is a little over three miles long, with a combination of trail, concrete, asphalt, flats, and inclines.
  • I run intervals or pick-ups  on a treadmill a couple of times a month because it helps me to maintain a consistent stride  and speed without my form falling completely apart.
  • I have added strength training and inner thigh stretches to my weekly routine. These seem to affect the length of my stride especially if I am running down an incline.  (I have glimpsed moments when I thought I might be able to fly. . .)

 

Factors that may have affected my stride:

  • In the very beginning I had a heck of a time with my right leg because of old injuries, tears in my calf and hamstring.  I got ferocious muscle cramps that shot into my lower back before I started running then clenching ones in the back of my leg the more I ran.  Thankfully, they have settled down and I now have a somewhat normal leg. However, I know this unbalanced my stride and sometimes made me shorten it.  
  • Then, ten weeks before my first race I injured my left knee (not running related) and I was forced to take a week off.  I entered the race six weeks later figuring that I would finish it even if I had to walk some of it if my knee freaked out. I’m happy to say it behaved, in spite of the fact that I climbed a mesa the day before, but I was thirty seconds off my projected time because I wasn’t sure of my stride or what I could do yet.


My Questions:

 

Should I have a consistent stride all of the time? Or should you, like I’ve been doing, adjust according to incline, surface, and how you feel?  Does your stride grow or shorten based on your flexibility and experience?  Do injuries affect it and do you compensate?  Am I doing this right or I am I just all over the place? Or is it something that comes with experience and body memory and it will come with time?  Am I the only one concerned about this?

 

My main goal is to get it right to avoid injury and the secondary one is to get faster (by at least a minute). Any advice or anecdotes I get would be much appreciated.

 

SSL





"Action is eloquence." William Shakespeare, English dramatist & poet  (1564 - 1616)

  • Basscycle Legend 236 posts since
    Dec 14, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    1. Dec 3, 2010 11:52 PM (in response to sunsetlizard)
    Re: Does Stride Matter?

    Very, very controversial question at this point in time. My take: absolutely, stride does matter. But, as you've noticed, stride rates change as we fatigue and as the incline changes. I think that more important than stride though is on what part of the foot we land. I have my own personal experiences with this that could fill up volumes but, suffice to say that, if you land on your mid-foot with a loose and relaxed lower leg, you'll be saving yourself a lot of aches and pains later on. I'll leave further explainations to those who are far more articulate than I am. They should be around any moment....





    My blog: RunningMyMouthOff.com

  • coolbikermom Legend 418 posts since
    Jan 25, 2010
    Currently Being Moderated
    2. Dec 4, 2010 6:07 AM (in response to sunsetlizard)
    Re: Does Stride Matter?

    Based on what I've read (Chirunning and Pose methods), cadence is more important. Stride length will vary, but cadence should be consistent. You want a quick foot turnover and should strive for roughly 180 beats per minute (or 90 if you only count each time the same food strikes). That's pretty easy for someone with short legs like me. You want to go faster? increase your stride length behind you. Want to go slower? decrease your stride length. But keep the same cadence.

     

    It's all about economy. Run economically and you can run farther with less body stress. Read this: http://www.pccoach.com/newsletters/Dec03/gall_form.htm

     

    Now, go educate your family members!





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  • lenzlaw Community Moderator 10,413 posts since
    Jan 18, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    3. Dec 4, 2010 9:54 AM (in response to sunsetlizard)
    Re: Does Stride Matter?

    sunsetlizard wrote:

     

    My Questions:

     

    Should I have a consistent stride all of the time? Or should you, like I’ve been doing, adjust according to incline, surface, and how you feel?  Does your stride grow or shorten based on your flexibility and experience?  Do injuries affect it and do you compensate?  Am I doing this right or I am I just all over the place? Or is it something that comes with experience and body memory and it will come with time?  Am I the only one concerned about this?

     

    My main goal is to get it right to avoid injury and the secondary one is to get faster (by at least a minute). Any advice or anecdotes I get would be much appreciated.

     

    SSL


    Books could be written . . . so I will just try to answer your questions, in my own inimitable way.

     

    Should I have a consistent stride all of the time? Or should you, like I’ve been doing, adjust according to incline, surface, and how you feel?

    I think there should be certain characteristics of your stride that you should try to keep consistent, such as:

    - plant your foot under your hips/center of mass, not out in front of your body.  (Note that this is footplant, initial contact may happen slightly forward.)

    - keep your cadence up.  This may mean a shorter stride, which is not necessarily a bad thing, and it promotes things like mid-foot plant and less time spent with your foot on the ground. (Note here that this advice is at least partly based on elites, whose cadence tends to be 180-190 footfalls per minute.)

    - keep your lower legs/ankles/feet relaxed.  Sometimes easier said than done.

    All that said, you will adjust your stride based on terrain, fatigue, etc.  Somewhat shorter uphill, for instance, or more controlled on trails.  But the principles stay the same.

     

    Does your stride grow or shorten based on your flexibility and experience?  I would say strength rather than flexibility.  Strength allows you to control your stride based on the circumstances.  It allows you to kick harder when you want to lengthen your stride. (Don't lengthen your stride by reaching further forward - known as overstriding.)  Experience helps you to know what to do with your stride in a given situation.

     

    Do injuries affect it and do you compensate?  Yes, and try not to.  If injury is causing you to change your stride, you probably should take a day or two off.

     

    Am I doing this right or I am I just all over the place? Or is it something that comes with experience and body memory and it will come with time?  Am I the only one concerned about this?  I think your approach in trying to learn the recommended practices is a good one.  Comments like you got from your relatives are interesting but of little use without advice on correcting the issues.  Experience and practice will help a lot, but having good principles in mind will get you there sooner.  For some of it, you'll have to read what advice you get, then try it to see if it works for you.  Sometimes it will, sometimes it won't.  Just about everybody has an interest in this subject, and it is frequently discussed on these boards.  Ask questions and I think you'll keep getting replies.

     

    Len





    Len

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