Happy hot day of summer CAMPers,
Now obviously we come in different shapes and sizes, but what sort of effect does that have on our ability to run, and run fast? Long legs mean your fast, and short legs mean your slow right? Or maybe it’s long legs for distance, and short for sprints… or maybe it’s the other way around. None of these assumptions can really determine whether or not you are going to be fast or whether your should be a sprinter or distance runner. When it comes down to it, it’s all about stride length, and stride frequency, or how much ground you cover in each stride, and the amount of times your foot strikes the ground in a given amount of time. So all you have to do is take big steps really fast? Yes, but it’s not that easy. Stride length is related to increases in force production. This means that when your foot strikes the ground it has enough force to propel you forward. The more force you strike with, the further you will be propelled. Stride frequency is associated with fast force during the contact, and leg turnover phase. I’m going to focus more on stride length; I hope that the brief introduction helps to separate the two elements of your stride. Stride length reliant athletes, need to maintain strength levels and hip flexibility throughout the year to be able to achieve optimal stride length.
Training for stride length, as well as frequency, is purely individualized. If you had a great connection to be able to record world class sprinters, and distance runners, with high tech HD camera equipment, you would find that the combination length and frequency is different for each athlete. To test yourself there are a couple of ways to find your stride length, and stride frequency, here are two simple ones that do a fairly good job.
Stride Length: Lay out a tape measure and find a friend to make a couple notes. Whether you are a sprinter, or distance runner, it makes no difference. While at your consistant pace, run past the tape and have your friend make notes on where your toe (or heel) land with one foot, and then the same spot on the opposite foot as it connects with the ground on the very next step. The distance between these two points in your stride length.
Stride Frequency: Using the same pace as before, count the number of strides you have in 30 seconds. Double that number and you will have your strides per minute number.
Now that you have your numbers, which one do you train? Well that’s up to you, but at least you have somewhere to start. Now get out there and get faster!Sean England General Manager / Performance Specialist CAMP, Building Better Athletes LLC