Tag Archives: Speed

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?


Do long legs mean you run faster?

I realised today that I seem to go through quite a lot of running partners…..not really sure why…(please be kind). Now let me think: one is pregnant (that’s an OK excuse I guess 😉 ) and another two have stopped running altogether for one reason or another. I am almost sure that it is not really down to me…..

My latest training partner is someone who I have great admiration for. She has run 2 marathons and has improved her running no end, something that I would love to do. I hope to pick up some of her skills! There are some friends though that have been saying (because I am a fair bit taller than her)

You should be a lot faster!

To be honest this hurts a bit. Yes I have got long legs but does that automatically mean that I will be faster than someone with shorter legs or find it any easier?

My Initial thoughts

I suppose that I can see the logic behind it.  My strides should be longer and therefore I have to take less strides to cover the same distance. On the other hand – I am bigger therefore heavier. Also does taking fewer strides use less energy? (Sometimes, when tired I consciously reduce my stride length.)

I have done a bit of research, I typed:

How does the length of your legs affect how fast you can run?

The results:

A study that I found quoted on The Science Of Running seems to show that there is no correlation between the length of leg and the length of stride:

What is also interesting is that Mathathi who is 1.67m tall and Sihine who is 1.71m tall both had considerably smaller stride lengths than Bekele who is only 1.60m tall.

That well-known font of all knowledge: Wiki has the following to say in answer to the question:

Does a longer leg mean a longer stride and a faster speed?

It would make for a longer stride but that doesn’t necessarily translate into speed. A humans leg is roughly the same length from hip to knee and knee to ankle meaning that no matter how long the leg this ratio will be constant. To run faster our knees would need to be higher on our legs allowing us to have a larger stride for a smaller movement like a horse. Or our ankles would need to be redesigned to be more like an ostrich’s or a cat’s this would allow for more “spring” as we ran.

I am happy with those answers for now. I am going to return to the question of stride length and speed later but for now I know that having longer legs does not necessarily make you a faster runner. I can now train with my new partner happily. 🙂


Treadmills: Love or Hate?

 I ask this because I had a very interesting conversation this week at the gym which made me stop and think. (In case you are wondering – this is not me, she is far too neat and tidy!)A woman on a treadmill (Original caption: &quo...

As always it started with general chit-chat. It then got interesting.

Do you run slower on a treadmill? That got me thinking and the answer is yes I think I do. Do you? I do a warm up program on the treadmill of 1 mile at a pace of about 10. This felt ok, not easy but not that hard either. When outside I find it hard to keep at a pace as slow as this – it always creeps up to 9 / 9.30 even when I am trying to run slowly. Then when I get into my running properly I seem to run faster than that but on the treadmill it never seems to be that easy – 8.30 pace seems really fast and a lot of effort.

Hmmm so then why? (these are just hypothesis).

It’s all in the rhythm? When outside you can subtly change your pace without realising it until you find the correct running rhythm for you on that day. (It amazes me how much my pace does change and when I think I am doing well it is not always the case!) On the treadmill your pace is determined by your brain and the computer. You put a speed in and the belt moves at that pace. That means that you have to run at a consistent pace the whole time. Although the treadmill does give you an even surface with no discrepancies in it.

It’s all in the brain? When you are outside there is much to distract you, from your surroundings, ensuring your foot falls on an even surface and even your route (where you are, where are you going next etc.) On the treadmill I do have a tv with a variety of channels to watch but I wouldn’t say that I ever got totally engrossed in any of them. My mind does not wander in the same way. All I focus on is the time and pace. This then means I put focus on how I feel now and how I might feel in another 5 minutes!!

I don’t have as much contact. When running up a hill (well slope here in the fens), when I need a bit of a boost I consciously push-off my back foot a bit harder. This obviously gives me a bit of momentum with which to keep my speed up. When I tried this on the treadmill I just wasn’t able to do it as the bit of the strap was moving and so wasn’t there long enough for me to get enough purchase.

You cannot have a bit of recovery. When I reach the top of a hill I can slow down a bit. Mentally I think that it doesn’t matter and give myself a bit of flack even if in reality I speed up quite quickly. On the treadmill unless you change the speed with the button your stay at the same pace. Whenever I slow down on a treadmill I don’t seem to be able to do it for a bit and it also seems to be slower than when outside.

What goes up must come down! (and hills all have a top) Well in real life that is true. I have a couple of ‘hills’ on my route. They are not long but steep for here. When embarking on them I have a definite end (the top) and after this there is a downhill ‘reward’ or recovery. When on a treadmill the ‘top’ is not visible – just a time so there is no real reward in making yourself go faster to reach the top. Also there is no downhill afterwards.

Am I making excuses or is there any truth in any of this? I would love to know. If it is all in my head then I need to change my mental state and move on! You may have guessed that I am not a particular fan of treadmills but I do see that they have their uses.

I am wondering if this would make it easier for me! I could catch up with all the news. (and be quite sick too I suspect!)treadmill workstation side view

As always to see what I have managed this week see here.