Is stride rate or stride length more important?
When you increase your pace from a jog to a run to a fast run, stride length increases more
than does stride rate by the plantar flexor muscles (gastrocnemius and soleus) producing more
force against the ground, until you’re sprinting very fast, when stride rate begins to dominate
further increases in speed. At very fast speeds (faster than about 3:50 per mile pace), the speed
of muscle contraction is so fast that there is not enough time to produce a lot of force, and
plantar flexor peak muscle force begins to decrease.
The subconscious manipulation of stride length and stride rate at different speeds is governed
by what is most economical for runners; at each pace, you run, you may have a stride length
that’s most economical (optimizes oxygen use) for you, while staying at a specific stride rate (or
within a narrow range of stride rates) maybe what’s most economical for all distance running
paces. It’s a more economical strategy to increase the distance of each stride than it is to
increase the cadence of the legs. (Same is true for swimming or rowing) distance per stroke is
more important than the number of strokes per minute.) When sprinting, however, optimizing
running economy is not an issue (because sprinting is not about using oxygen), and stride rate
can play a more prominent role.
Learn much more about stride rate and stride length when you sign up for the REVO2LUTION
RUNNING certification course.
Blog contribution by:
JASON KARP, PhD
Chief Running Officer, Run-Fit & REVO2LUTION RUNNING
10x Author, including Running a Marathon For Dummies
Founder,Run Kenya camp
Founder,JK Literary Agency
2011 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year
MBA student, San Diego State University