What is your stride length?

Last week I dispelled the myth that longer legs mean that you run faster. This week I have done some research into how the length of your stride effects your running speed. I, myself am aware that I vary the length of my stride throughout my runs. When I am beginning to struggle with my running I tend to consciously shorten my stride length. I cannot guarantee how long this lasts for as we have noticed that when we suggest that we should slow down a bit we don’t really manage it. Indeed we often end up going faster (in our heads though we have eased off and that is all that matters? Right?)


Sourdoughkaty left the following on comment last week:

Ayerveda holds that there are 3 basic body types. They are identified by many markers, one of which is running style. The three styles are described as like a deer, like a tiger, or like a bear. Speed, power, endurance

I like the visual nature of this. Simple and easy to understand. Thanks for sharing this 🙂

Variation factors

Apparently our stride length depends on a variety of different variants:

Stride length is dependent upon a number of factors, including skeletal structure, muscular strength, and flexibility.

Runners World.com

The article goes on to say:

Recent research indicates that running form, in particular stride length, differs between road running and treadmill running.

It also says that there are studies showing that increasing the stride length makes you more prone to injury and therefore it is better to increase speed turnover in order to move faster.

A claim to dispute this:

Nomeathelete claims that the way to stay injury free is to run 180 steps per minute when you run. This is because:

When you turn your legs over at this rate, you:

  • Are forced to take shorter, lighter strides
  • Keep your feet underneath you, rather than way out in front
  • Strike the ground with your midfoot, rather than your heel
  • Spend more time in the air and less time “braking” on the ground

All these factors add up to two big things: Greater efficiency, and dramatically reduced risk of injury.


His view is that the number of the steps per minute is important in order to remain injury free. In order to go faster therefore he says that you :

For slow, relaxed runs, you’ll be taking very short steps, and when you want to open it up for a 5K or something even shorter and faster, you’ll lengthen your stride so that you cover more ground with each step.  But you’re still taking 180+ steps each minute at all speeds.

Hmmm that to me makes sense but at the same time it worries me that longer strides may mean that you over stretch which would result in possible injury?  Oh dear. I am a bit confused now.

A final view-point:

Corerunning puts a little bit of common sense into the theory of running 180 steps per minute – combining some of the points from the first article with the second. He gives a range within to run: between 170 – 180 steps per minute (for both feet.) The fewer steps will obviously be for a slower pace and the larger number of steps will be for speed work. He also realistically points out that what is right for one person may not be right for everyone (therefore taking account of individual differences).

He goes on to say that to go faster you do need to increase your stride length but not by much. He shows this table:

look at table below from the book, Healthy Intelligent Training: The Proven Principles of Arthur Lydiard by Keith Livingstone (a great book by the way):

5km Performance & Stride Length
SL (m) 2.0 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04
Increase 0.5% 1% 1.5% 2%
# strides 2500 2488 2475 2463 2450
Time 14:00 13:55.8 13:51.7 13:47.6 13:39

What this table shows is how much faster you can run a 5k with only a 2% increase in stride length (SL).

He goes on to say that he doesn’t worry about stride lengths but on the speed of footfall as:

…..most recreational runners have too low a cadence. Many are below 170.

He finishes off by saying:

It’s important to keep in mind that you should work on your cadence during your easier runs. Everyone’s cadence naturally goes up when doing speed work but the key is to make your normal running cadence fall in that magic range.


I know what I shall be working on this weekend. How about you?


13 thoughts on “What is your stride length?

  1. Red Hen

    I`d also read that short strides are better which makes me smile, because physiologically, I am incapable of anything else. I`m more Corgi than greyhound-or Red Hen than Ostrich, if you know what I mean!

  2. Gertie

    Who’d have thought that running (ie putting one foot in front of another) was so complicated !!!! I think I’ll stick to Wizzy my wheelchair…. 🙂 xxx

  3. feelgoodknitting

    I’ve noticed that when I concentrate on lengthening my stride my knees hurt more the next day. I suspect that’s why my natural stride when running is so much shorter than my walking stride as well – I have a bad knee and I think I’m subconsciously favoring it. I think I will try picking up my turnover rate instead!

  4. travellinghopefully

    I have to admit being hopeless at doing anything with stride length or cadence… When I imagine myself running like a gazelle, I always have a wonderfully long legged stride (and wonderfully long legs…). The only time I give proper thought to my number of steps is when I’m using Audiofuel and ‘keeping my feet to the beat’.


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