You know that you’re stride length is short and you want to make it longer, and you think that’s the answer to getting faster. But if you’re focusing solely on making or struggling longer, you may actually be going down the wrong path. I’m Jesse Funk and on today’s episode, a Runner’s High, I’m going to show you what you’re doing wrong and what you should actually be doing to increase your speed.
I think it’s completely natural to look at your stride length compared to people that are running faster than you and think, okay, if only I can increase my stride length, I wouldn’t be faster. But focusing on that actually doesn’t address the underlying issue of why you’re not faster and what’s actually going on, what would actually improve your speed.
Now, if you’ve been on the channel anytime here, you may have watched my episode of the Smart Athlete Podcast with Ben Yoakam. If you haven’t seen that, hit subscribe, stay tuned. I interview people every week like Ben, who are very smart athletes who’ve done research and know a lot about their sport and how to help you become both a better athlete and a better person.
But Ben suggestion is not to increase your stride length at all, it’s actually to use this mental trick where you think about, I have a wall behind me, and my feet can’t touch that wall when I run. What that does is increase your canes, not going to increase your stride length. When you increase your stride length, you’re lengthening the amount of time you spend on the ground, which actually is counterintuitive to what you want to be doing. You think, okay, if my strategy is longer, I’m going to run faster. But there’s a whole thing about ground contact time and its inverse relationship with how fast you’re going.
This suggestion from Ben comes from actually a really good place as well. Ben spent his masters research looking at running biomechanics of some of the greats like Carl Lewis or Haley Gebrselassie. He went and looked at the video, looked at slo-mo, and figured out that stride length is not so important, is that turnover, that’s really, really important, which is where his suggestion of thinking about that wall behind you comes from.
So, increasing stride length has very little to do with actually increasing your stride length. Another issue that comes up when you try to increase your struggling is you may end up overstriding, which means when you come out to the front, your foot comes up to the front, you’re going to end up breaking, your heel come down, and you’re slowing yourself down, rather than speeding up which is the exact opposite of what you want to do, right.
So, if you use that mental trick, where you think of that wall behind you in your stride becomes maybe shorter than you think it should be; it increases your turnover and it prevents overstriding. As I mentioned earlier, there’s actually this inverse relationship between ground contact time and how fast you’re going. And that’s also a part of Ben’s research and a lot of things that people are looking into right now.
I actually had a coach write an article for me for the soul pre website, talking about this. In his athletes, he hasn’t data from their garments and their foot pods about the longer your foot spends on the ground, the slower that you are. And what’s happening there is we need to focus on float time, the amount of time you’re in the air. That isn’t to say you should be jumping up and trying to go as high as possible because you want to be flat across you’re running plain, not bobbing as you run. But when you focus on that tip that Ben gave, and there’s actually another video where I demonstrate that. So again, subscribe to the channel, go check that out.
But if you focus on that tip that Ben gave, where you are increasing your stride length, sorry, where you’re increasing cadence, then you are actually going to decrease your ground contact time. At that point, there’s only really one other thing you have to focus on and that is going faster, which is push-off power. To increase your push-off power, there’s really only a couple of ways to do it but the best way is just simply to run faster.
It seems dumb to say it but if you want to run faster, you have to run faster. If you don’t know anything about running intervals, I actually have a mini-series on the different types of intervals and how to use them. So, you can go – those on the channel as well. But the other thing you can do is a little bit of strength training to substitute some of that running. But really, you need that firing pattern from running to make you run faster. So, you got to run faster if you want to run faster. It’s a little bit axiomatic, it’s a little bit dumb, but it is the truth.
So, remember, stride length is not what you should be focusing on. You need to focus on turnover and push-off power. I’ll see you next time on the next episode of Runner’s High.