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Friday, September 10, 2010

STRIDE...SHMIDE - What's it to ya?

In last weeks effort to count my strides and see if I could do some tweakage (it is too a word) and increase my pace I went about it all wrong. I'm kind of embarrassed because this is the stuff I should know but it's been a while since I was in school. Which is exactly why I keep up on this hold onto some of that professional brain in the midst of Mommyland.

Here's a quick review from a couple posts back about stride rate.

"One of the most noticeable differences between recreational runners and world class competitive runners is cadence. Top level runners use a cadence of around 90 to 100 full strides per minute, compared to a rather sluggish 75 to 85 strides per minute for recreational runners. A higher stride rate encourages a shorter more efficient stride. Low stride rates are usually associated with over striding and spending too much time on the ground. Try to maintain a stride rate of at least 90 strides per minute at all running velocities. You’ll run easier and more efficiently." --Rick Morris

...and here's the information I should have remembered before I wasted my time counting strides the wrong way.
  • Stride length is the distance between successive points of initial contact of the same foot. Right and left stride lengths are normally equal.

  • Step length is the distance between the point of initial contact of one foot and the point of initial contact of the opposite foot. In normal gait, right and left step lengths are similar.

  • Cadence is calculated in step or strides per minute. (1)

My mistake - I counted step length instead of stride length. I took 180 steps per minute so divide that by 2 and I've got 90 full strides per minute. Okay, so I'm feeling much better about that number. It shows that I'm already at a "top level runner" cadence but I'm sure not running at top level speed so what else can I do to my stride? Here's what I'll be working on.

1 - Make sure I'm not over-striding. When your heel is striking the ground first this actually causes a breaking affect and slows down your pace. It's optimal to have a flat-footed landing right behind the balls of your feet. It's better to have short quick strides with a flat footed landing than long slow strides landing with a heel strike. Hey, I've still got 10 strides I could add per minute to still be "efficient" right?

2 - Get a more explosive foot strike. If I've already got the cadence down then I need to make each step more effective by having a greater push-off. Time to pull out the plyometrics (jumping drills).

3 - Try to get a higher knee lift. Hills, hills, hills. A driving knee will also help my steps to travel farther. This doesn't mean a longer stride. I'm talking about more velocity per step or covering more ground while in the air.

Here's a great article that has some great hill-drill ideas. It works for the Kenyans so why not me? I'm doing number #3 on Monday.

This quote by Phil English is something I'm going to remember while making all these improvements.

"When it comes to stride improvement, it's important to realize that no two runners are exactly alike. "I believe there is a perfect stride for every runner," said English, "but not all runners should have the same perfect stride."

I'm not going to do anything that doesn't feel natural to my body because it's my opinion that not 1 thing works for everyone. But I'll give anything a shot.

Friday Fav's

My Mom loves me. She surprised my with some new Nike running gloves. Yes even 30 year olds get to be spoiled by their Mom every once in a while.

Now I don't have to wear my daughter's fuzzy bright blue gloves from the dollar store. Not that they didn't keep my hands fact...they were outright sweaty. Yuck. This morning was the first time I wished it was chilly enough so I could test ride the new gloves, but it wasn't. I'll have my review when the time comes. Pretty snazzy though. There's even a pocket in each palm for a key (or lube, chap stick, runner I.D.). The rest of my clothes (minus the shoes) might be from Walmart, thrift store, or a pick from 1 of many race shirts. But my gloves...yeah they rock!

Hmm, not my best picture. It's pretty comparable to the smile I've usually given the camera right after giving birth to each of my kids. Just not normally accompanied with the "rock on" sign but I may have to with the next one just because of this post.

Oh and how will I know when it's cold enough to dawn the gloves? Because I bought myself this really fancy thermometer from said Wally World for a whole buckaroo. Works like a charm. Today I figured out that 50 degrees means a long sleeve shirt and capri length shorts.

See ya on the road...err I mean HILLS!


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Rae said...

Sweet gloves!

morrismom0204 said...

Have you read about Chi running? It looks like its pretty interesting. I'm just running to stay in shape so I just go with however I feel. If you haven't heard of it check it out. Here is a link:

Glenn Jones said...

Another book you might want to look into is Brain Training for Runners by Matt Fitzgerald. He has a ton of excercises and drills to help with turnover and cadence. The key is forefoot running. Chi Running and Brain Training are the best books I've read on the subject.

Maxi Fortend said...

Hi there! New Follower! Very informative post - I agree, Brain Training and Chi are definately things you should look into.

Johann said...

Strange, I was thinking to do a post about the gloves I used in my race this weekend…gardening gloves! We do the Celsius thing here in SA. I usually start with long sleeves and winter goodies around 10°C.

Adam said...

I LOVE my nike running gloves. Although, I rarely wear them now that I am in PHX. But, they do get put on now and again.

Stride is hard to change, but well worth it. Keep plugging away. I have a post in my head for this weekend talking about what that coach told me.