Running stride rate is not often considered by runners when they want to improve their running. When you are one of those runners who has never really thought about their stride rate, then this might be an area you want to focus on. Although it is hard to change your ways, when you are able to do it, it may be one of the quicker ways to improve your running speed dramatically.
What is Running Stride Rate?
I have come across many runners, who do not know what is their stride rate. Stride rate is the number of steps you take on average per minute. Runners do base building, intervals, and tempo work, but they often do not actively work on their running stride rate. Stride rate is part of your running economy. The way you run. Running economy incorporates more than your stride rate, but this article focuses on running rhythm.
Average Stride rate for Elite Marathon Runners?
What do you think your current stride rate is? If you are anything like the typical Western runner, you are likely to do about 81-83 steps per minute. That is, with one foot, so 162-166 steps with both feet. Elite athletes, many of them Kenyans and Ethiopians, run with a stride rate of 180 steps per minute. Imagine how much faster you would be if you would make 14-18 steps per minute extra! Next time you go for a run check it out for yourself. And if you watch some athletics on TV, make sure you check the stride rate of the top runners. I guarantee you that they do about 180 steps per minute, regardless of the distance they are running.
How To Improve Your Running Stride rate
The first, important, step to improving your stride rate is knowing that you need to improve. We can now put a plan in place to improve your running. A number of exercises are known to help with increasing stride rate.
A) Quick short strides
Think baby steps. Try to run as if you are not allowed to touch the ground. Run short strides (30 metres or so) with very quick steps. Lift your knees up high and go as fast as you can. Jog for a short while and then repeat. Repeat at least ten times. You can do these strides at the end of an easy run.
B) Metronome For Stride Rate Improvement
You can use a metronome to take the correct number of steps per minute. In the beginning the metronome might be a bit frustrating, but after a while it does get easier to keep up with it. Do this very consistently, e.g. 2-3 times per week. You may want to start off running with a metronome for only 10 minutes or so. As you start getting more used to the thing, start increasing the time you run with the metronome until running 180 steps per minute is second nature.
If you are able to improve your stride rate, you will find that you will run faster. And not only that, because you take lighter steps, you use less energy and you are less likely to become injured. So, improve your stride rate and unlock your true potential to go longer, further and faster!