August 10, 2021
Increasing your stride length is one of only two ways to run faster. Here are four things you can do to increase your stride length.
There are only two ways to run faster in its most simplistic form – increase your stride rate or length.
In other words, you need to turn your legs around more quickly or run with a longer stride.
Stride rate, usually referred to as cadence, is relatively easy to train, and you should put conscious effort into finding and running at an optimal cadence for you. What’s optimal will vary between runners, but in my experience, most fast runners – whether professional or amateur – run with a cadence of between 165 and 185 steps per minute (spm).
If your cadence is much below 165 spm, then I strongly encourage you to do some focused work to bring this up. If it is much above 185 spm, it might be worth assessing your flexibility and developing your stride length.
Stride length, on the other hand, is not something I think you should consciously think about when you run. It’s a byproduct of your training and will naturally increase over time if you train well and train consistently.
Many runners who consciously think about the length of their stride often find themselves in an overstriding pattern which is tiring and will likely lead to injury.
At Coached, we use structured training and various drills and other techniques to help our athletes improve their cadence and stride length. When we boil it down, we’re essentially trying to address these four things when it comes to improving your stride length.
If you want to have a naturally long stride length, you need to put a lot of power through the ground and transfer that energy directly into forward movement. A lot of runners generate power only to lose it out the side as their hips drop.
Train to increase your overall muscular strength and power to weight ratio. Pay particular attention to developing strength through your core so that you can transfer power.
Your heart and lungs have to match the power that your muscles produce. Otherwise, you won’t be able to sustain the workload. This means that you must first develop a robust aerobic engine by doing a lot of low-intensity running to increase your aerobic function. Then, by introducing some harder running to increase your aerobic power.
Your level of flexibility plays a role in how much you can increase your stride length. Being incredibly tight, especially in your hip flexors and hamstrings, will compromise your stride length, so you need to work to find an optimal level of flexibility that allows for a good range of motion while retaining muscle responsiveness.
Consider doing a dynamic warm-up before starting your run and include leg swings. Post-run, use a massage gun or a foam roller to do some myofascial release and work to increase your overall flexibility and range of motion.
Finally, your overall running form impacts the length of your stride. Don’t go making any drastic biomechanical changes to your technique which can lead to injury. Instead, use running drills and conscious effort to improve your body position and running form over time gradually.
Train properly, and you’ll naturally begin to see an increase in stride length. If cadence remains constant and the length of your stride increases – you’re faster. BOOM!