Long stride length or short?

Hi all,

During the years that I have been running I have heard many people state that you should try and increase your stride length and this will improve your speed and I have heard many say the opposite 'try and imagine you are running on egg shells and have a high leg turnover and try and spend as little time in contact with the floor almost as if you are gliding over it(above 160 strides a minute) ie. a shorter stride length'
What do you think - I tend to try and keep my legs 'spinning' with medium stride length - obviously when I'm running quickly I try and keep my legs turning over quickly AND have a long stride length, but what about when you are doing a longer run (anywhere between 5 miles and a marathon).
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Comments

  • I think different people run in different ways. My stride length is quite long, but my Dad's is quite short. It is more efficient to have a longer stride, but don't over stride as this will lead to injury. Extend the stride further back and try to get your foot to land as close under your body as possible (If you DO decide to tryit)

    Jon
  • MinksMinks ✭✭✭
    I think your stride length is invariably affected by the length of your legs. I'm short, only 5'1", so have little legs - consequently my strides are quite short. It doesn't seem to affect my speed or anything, although I suppose logically it would be less efficient to have a higher stride turnover. But if your legs ain't got the length, you don't have a choice!
  • Efficiency-wise longer strides are less efficient than a fast cadence.

    If you ran the same distance in the same time with a fast cadence then compared it to using a long stride you would have burned more calories using the longer stride approach

    It is the same in cycling – a fast cadence is more efficient that turning a big gear

    Will
  • I only passed on what I've been told... I could of course be wrong!!! Surely you work the muscles more with a short cadence?!
  • PS. Paula has a long one
  • My view - which I'm sure is not supported by any scientific evidence whatsoever is that stride length is largely inherited and that actually forcing yourself to run outside of your natural stride patterns could lead to injury. In any event once tired you will always revert to type.

    However......

    I do think there are some important things worth mentioning.

    1. Overuse injuries and lack of flexibility are affected by (amongst other things) stride pattern and therefore periodically it will benefit you to do specific drills to improve flexibility.

    2. You will find it easier to run up hills (and running in general will be easier) if you attempt to maintain an even cadence i.e. if running uphill try shortening your stride.

    3. A personal preference of mine is to focus on "quick feet" i.e. when in a difficult running situation, at the end of a race, into a wind or up a really steep hill I try and focus on keeping my feet moving quickly.

    4. Finally, to improve stride 'power' overall try incorporating hill running and off road running into your regular schedule - this will give you increased strength and mobility.
  • drewdrew ✭✭✭
    One way to improve your stride length is to use stilts. Wearing stilts that increase your leg length by 1m would increase your pace dramatically as your stride length would be almost doubled.

    For this to be effective the stilts would have to be clinically attached to your shin bones.

    What do you think Martin?
  • My take on this...assuming same speed of runner...

    If you take a longer stride the you are "flying" through the air longer (i.e., you are using energy to go upwards as well as forwards) before you come back to earth have to take another stride. If you take a shorter stride, you use the same amount of "moving forwards" energy (ish), but expend less energy pushing your whole body upwards into the air (so your body comes back to ground faster, so you have to take another stride sooner, so your stride is shorter...make sense?).

    The thing on cadence for a bike ride is a little different, though fairly undisputed (although there's an upper limit of efficiency that's reckoned to be in the 90-100rpm bracket - much like there's a running cadence limit) - they reckon that the increased contraction of muscles (which helps push the blood through veins back to the heart) helps to clear out lactic acid at a slightly increased rate. Also, there's stuff they write about "neromuscular fatigue" which is much too medical for me. What I do know is that if I push a really high gear really hard on a steep upwards slope, my muscles will die and I just will not get to the top. If I push a small one, I am likely to get there eventually and my muscles will recover quickly and let me ride on...
  • Good Lord!!! Drew... Whats going on? Its almost asif you're turning into me! Saying that, I have contributed a few running comments todaY!

    Looking forward to seeing one and all on sunday

    Jon
  • drewdrew ✭✭✭
    The thing is Tim, Coco the clown was never going to be a great runner as he didn't enjoy running. He much preferred getting totally drunk which helped him to practice his falling over routine.

    On a serious note the following articles may shed some light on the subject:

    http://www.pponline.co.uk/encyc/0122.htm
    http://www.pponline.co.uk/encyc/0142.htm
  • In long strides physics comes into play - think leavers extending out from under their center of gravity - the further out you extend the leaver the more effort is required - the more stress put onto the systems required to move said leaver?

  • Blimey Will!!! Leavers, cadences... You're a clever man! I only really know of cadences in a musical sense... IV V I!
  • Drew - I reckon it depends on what type of wood you use, need something springy like a willow. Something like oak would be too heavy and inflexible.
  • What's cadence?

    (Nice easy short words please!)

    Nick
  • Nick - its the speed at which you move your legs - think in terms of cycling i.e. when going uphill you change down a gear but keep leg speed the same. In running shortening stride length is the same as changing down a gear.
  • Blimey, thanks for all the advice guys, what I seem to be getting is that shorter stride length and higher cadence is better than forcing a longer stride etc etc. which is what I have been doing all these years (Phew!)
    Either that or buys some stilts and have them surgically grafted to the bone etc.

    I started reading your first post drew and thought it was a serious training point seeing as it was coming from you I thought surely Drew's not being flippant!!!! Good on ya.
  • Drew those websites are really helpful, got lots of things to go out and try now - what out Mr Gabreselaisse (or however he spells his name!)
  • i've actually been advised by my doctor to think of taking shorter faster steps when both walking and running after i started walking to work (30mins) every day and developed a dead leg that didn't want to move! i think he said it was something to do with me overstretching the ligaments or something. anyway, it's been fine ever since i've stuck to short strides.
  • Perhaps the longer stride lenghts only work over shorter distances.....like Johnathan Edwards.
  • Hello! My first message on the forum.
    I started running as a 400m runner at school with a very long (but, I guess, efficient) stride. When I moved to longer distances and running on the road I think I just ran in the same style but much further. For years I struggled with hamstring problems which proved to be a mystery to every physio I ever consulted.
    One day someone videoed me in a race and I realised what I actually looked like, loping along and spending so much time airborne. I chopped my stride and increased the turnover, treated myself to a couple Bowen sessions (that's another message) and I have never had a problem since.
    PS My favourite distance is 10k
  • I read the two articles posted by drew and the went for a run, maintained a high leg turnover (or cadence as some of our inteligent forumites would say) and set a PB on my usual 5 mile course.

    I couldn't really lift my feet higher off the ground as the article suggested as it was too knackering but did manage to practice the high cadence and pushing with the buttock muscles etc. seemed to work.
  • ...coming late to the party...

    We have a Q+A on this very topic.

    It's only viewable to subscribers to the magazine, tho there's another about having a bouncy style which is totally *free*

    Sean
  • Didn't see this thread earlier....

    Think of it this way: the only time you can accelerate is when you have a foot or feet in contact with the ground.
    Ergo, the more often that happens, the faster you can go.
  • I thought I'd resurrect this thread seeing as it's a topic I was considering earlier today while I should have been working!

    Speaking personally, I'm a bit of a novice runner whose build is rather more suited to power events (I throw the discus for my local athletics club) than it is for endurance. The main limiting factor with my own performance is lung power - basically, I get very out of breath long before my legs start to ache even at the slowest of running paces.

    I used to do a lot of indoor rowing on a Concept2 ergometer. I noticed that there was a distinct difference between my own style of rowing to that of most other people. My own particular technique involved long, powerful pulls with a relatively low stroke rate (20-22 spm). Most other people seemed to be rather closer to 30 spm (and upwards) with a much shorter pull. Yet 9 times out of 10, my actual rowing pace was faster than theirs - usually substantially so. It struck me that my technique was rather more efficient (at least for my physique) and I'd noticeably flag if I tried to up the stroke rate.

    I'm wondering as a 17 stone discus thrower if I could use this as an analogy to running style? Would I be better served by trying to take advantage of my leg strength by taking longer strides and saving my lungs by having a slower cadence.

    Any views?
  • "I'm wondering as a 17 stone discus thrower if I could use this as an analogy to running style? Would I be better served by trying to take advantage of my leg strength by taking longer strides and saving my lungs by having a slower cadence."

    Hmmm...I know what you're trying to say, but it's slightly muddled! Tests have shown that what you do naturally is the most efficient for you. How far do you want to run? Leg strength is fine for short distances, but the problem with having big, powerful muscles during distance running is that those muscles need constant fuelling and their weight means they have to be 'carried' in a sense.

    Running velocity = cadence x step length. If your step length makes up for your lower cadence, then that's fine. Having a higher cadence is not really related to cardiovascular fitness.

    Here are some stats from the 1988 Olympic 100m final:

    Ben Johnson - 9.79s - step length: 2.15m; cadence: 4.76 Hz
    Carl Lewis - 9.92s - step length: 2.29m; cadence: 4.40 Hz
  • I've noticed that doing a lot of running related stretching has definatle made my stride longer and more fluid.
  • "Hmmm...I know what you're trying to say, but it's slightly muddled! Tests have shown that what you do naturally is the most efficient for you. How far do you want to run? Leg strength is fine for short distances, but the problem with having big, powerful muscles during distance running is that those muscles need constant fuelling and their weight means they have to be 'carried' in a sense.

    Running velocity = cadence x step length. If your step length makes up for your lower cadence, then that's fine. Having a higher cadence is not really related to cardiovascular fitness."

    I'm looking to run rather longer distances than I used to... 5km and upwards. It just seems to me from my limited experiences so far that my legs aren't working as hard as they could in that they usually feel pretty fresh after a run while my lungs are bursting. So far as higher cadence not being related to cardivascular fitness, all I can say is that even a slight increase in cadence on my part results in a very much elevated heart rate and much gasping for breath!

    My leg strength is good enough that I can paste the long distance running group in a standing long jump test despite being considerably heavier. However, that's most definitely a power event so I don't know how applicable/comparable it would be to a longer stride length while running.
  • ?

    shorter is better. Everything short is good!!!
  • akshayvakshayv ✭✭✭

    Quick and easy. The shoes are rugged and fit well. It seems like they'd give my flat feet pretty good support as-is, but my feet are very flat. So I removed the insoles and substituted a pair of orthofeet running inserts. My feet approve.
    I'm glad I didn't ignore the "Merchant's suggestion" on the orthofeet product page for these boots. I got ordered the boots a full size larger and wider than my customary sizes. Turned out to be a wise move. Read the product page for whatever you're buying and follow instructions. The folks at orthofeet.com seem to know what they're doing and care about customer satisfaction

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