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How To Improve Stride Frequency: 6 Tips to Follow

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Stride frequency is the measure of how quickly a stride is completed. Both stride length and stride frequency are the two major factors that contribute to a runner’s speed. What’s more is that studies have concluded that increasing stride frequency by just 5% can decrease the impact on joints, therefore preventing possible injury.

In this video, RRCA Certified Running Coach, Evan Wood, provides a robust look into how you can approach improving your stride frequency. Scroll below to continue reading the post.


What is Stride Frequency and Why is it Important?

To put it very simply, stride frequency is the rate at which a runner switches weight from one foot to the other. That action of changing the weight of the foot to the other creates a free fall event that pushes the runner forward. 

Stride frequency is seen as one of the most important aspects of running technique because the faster your legs turnover, the faster your running speed is. In other words, more frequency equates to faster running. 

If you are hoping to get faster, stride frequency is most likely very important to you.

What Is a Good Stride Frequency?

In order to determine what constitutes a good stride frequency, you have to ask yourself what your goals are as a runner. For an average runner, a good stride frequency is somewhere between 150 and 170 steps per minute. Elite runners are usually around 180 strides per minute.

What about the fastest men alive? Let’s look at Usain Bolt, stride length, and frequency. Conventional thinking says that the person with the greatest stride frequency would cross the finish line first. That is not always true.

When Bolt sprints, each stride covers about 9 feet. He literally eats up the ground as he pushes with each footstrike with incredible force. Even though biomechanics say he should try to achieve faster turnover for more frequency, that would actually slow him down.

Now bear in mind that Bolt is only traveling 100 or 200 meters. Things change somewhat when it comes to distance running. 

How Can You Calculate Stride Frequency/Stride Rate?

If you are trying to calculate your optimum stride frequency/number of strides, your best bet is to count footfalls for a minute. You can actually make it even easier than that.

Have someone time you and for 30 seconds.

Count the number of times your right foot contacts the ground (ground contact time).

Multiply that number X2 to get the stride frequency (so you are counting both footfalls), then multiply that number X2 to get to a full minute.

How Can I Increase My Stride Frequency? Our 6 Tips to Follow:

Wondering how to increase step frequency for sprinting?

We have 6 solid tips for increasing the frequency of your stride:

  1. Downhills: Sure, we all think about hammering uphills in order to build strength. An often forgotten important aspect of hills is running down them quickly, which helps us acclimate to fast running. 
  2. Bungee runs: Some coaches tether two athletes together with a bungee of sorts. One runner stays in place while the other runs ahead. When the bungee is taut, the second athlete takes off and slingshots in front of the first athlete. Be careful when doing this because bungees can be dangerous. 
  3. Drills: There are drills specific to stride frequency such as quick feet and high knees. Skipping is another good drill. You can skip for height or distance and both help make you a stronger runner. 
  4. Improve Your Running Form: A final way to increase stride frequency is to have a gait analysis. Making your running more efficient can improve both stride length and frequency. 
  5. Arm Action: You should be putting the focus on your arms. Strong, quick arms that move the entire distance should help you to run faster, stronger, and with greater efficiency. Pay attention to your arms. Many runners neglect them. 
  6. Strides of Pick-Ups: Even for distance runners, pure speed is a good training tool. You should incorporate pick-ups or strides into your regiment. This just means you pick up your pace and go fast either throughout your run or at the end of your run. 

Are Shorter Strides Better?

Runners with a shorter stride have a faster cadence. Cadence is another way of referring to steps per minute (SPM) or stride frequency. Are shorter strides better? A confident “maybe” is the best answer I can give. 

On the one hand, a shorter stride could mean a faster cadence and help you move faster. However, think back to our conversation on Usain Bolt. Covering 9 feet per stride, and knowing he is one of the fastest men alive, asking him to shorten his stride would be ridiculous.

Does a Longer Stride Make You Faster?

Again, the answer is maybe. 

Stride frequency can be calculated by multiplying stride frequency by stride length.

Long and powerful strides seem to help athletes to run fast over short distances. For those running a long race, on the other hand, shorter more frequent strides are often the recipe for success.

If you are wondering if you should try to modify your step length and the number of steps to get faster, consider having a gait analysis done by a professional. When working with the coach, ask some questions. Are you running efficiently? Do you have good form?

When considering making changes to form, implement small ones a step or two at a time. Trying for a complete structural overhaul overnight is not achievable nor advisable.

However, if you start on small components and implement them one at a time, you are more likely to find success. 

Which is More Important: Stride Length or Frequency?

Ideally, you should carefully consider both within your training regimen. Remember what was said earlier. Putting all of your eggs into one basket is not advisable.

If you are comfortable with your stride length, maybe work on some drills and add some things into your workout to try to achieve a higher step rate.

Do you think you are overreaching on your stride and putting the brakes on a little? If so, shorten the stride a bit. The point is that none of these things are magic bullets for everyone.

You need to do some trial and error to see exactly which components help you to be the strongest and most efficient runner you can be. 

And above all, run happy, friends.

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