The running equation is pretty simple: Speed = stride length x stride rate (cadence). So if you want to run faster, you can either increase your stride length (take bigger steps), or increase your stride rate (take more steps per minute).
- Stride rate (cadence). Studies of elite runners suggest an ideal cadence of about 180 strides/minute or more. Taking smaller, quicker strides minimizes the impact on your joints, decreases the risk of overstriding, and helps prevent injury.
- Stride length. Too often when runners try to pick up their pace, they end up overstriding (reaching out too far with each step, exaggerating the heel strike and increasing the force through the knees, hips, and back). To increase stride length without risking injury, increase stride length on the back side of your stride rather than reaching forward. In other words, use your glutes and hamstrings to push the ground away, rather than reaching forward with your front foot to lengthen your stride.
Written By: Kate Blankshain, PT, DPT