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Well, you do. Some people naturally prefer a longer stride, and others fall into a shorter stride.
While many people think stride length has to do with height or leg length, it’s not just runners with long legs who have a long stride and vice versa.
Research shows that runners with long legs can have a short stride, while shorter runners can have a long stride.
Stride length is the distance covered between the spot where one foot hits the ground and the next time that same foot hits the ground again.
“If you’re maintaining the same pace but running with a shortened stride length, you’ll increase your cadence because you’ll be taking more steps per minute.”
“If you lengthen your stride, you’ll be taking less steps per minute at the same pace.”
On the flip side, if your stride length is too short, you can’t store enough energy in the swing phase of your gait, and you won’t be able to use as much force when you hit the push-off phase of your gait, which means you’ll have less forward momentum.
Stride length goes hand in hand with cadence and pace.
To run faster, a runner needs to either :
There are a lot of variables that go into the equation, including your individual biometrics: your overall height, the length of your legs, and running biomechanics like your foot strike.
Some of the other variables that determine stride length are body weight, flexibility, and stiffness (or how much the joints of the foot, knee, and hip move during the running gait.
The short answer: It depends. You’ve probably heard that an average of 180 steps per minute is the “magic number” for cadence.
This is based on observations by the famous running coach Jack Daniels, who wrote that the majority of elite distance runners at the 1984 Olympic games had a cadence of 180 foot strikes per minute and higher.
Recreational runners, though, tend to run with a cadence of 140-170 foot strikes per minute.
Stride length functions on a bell curve.
Research has repeatedly shown that overstriding - that is, running with the leading foot extended too far in front of the body and thus heel striking - is a prime factor for increased risk of injury.
Plus, overstriding places the body in a biomechanically inefficient position to move into the second stage of the gait cycle, and is subsequently less effective in generating forward momentum.
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