Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Secret #1: 180 steps per minute

Posted by speedygeoff on Wednesday, July 18, 2007 with 4 comments
To a great extent you can control your stride length when you run. So if it is too long you can shorten it, if too short you can lengthen it. But just what is the optimal stride length?

Many novice runners tend to over-stride, but with practice they can shorten their natural stride length and so run faster! I will explain.

One way to discover if you are overstriding is to count your steps. My observation is that the fastest runners over middle and long distances all have a leg speed of 180 steps per minute, or slightly more. An objective for my speedygeese is to see all the runners increase their tempo until they achieve 180 steps per minute for most of their running.

If you discover that you run at considerably less than 180, you should work on reducing your stride length and increasing your tempo.

A slower tempo and longer stride length means that you are in the air longer, you hit the ground harder, the footfall is heavier, there is more shock to your legs as you land, and a deceleration effect as well.

A quick optimal tempo means you run lighter, you feel like you are skimming over the ground rather than ploughing into it, you are able to propel yourself more rapidly forward, you respond quickly to pace variations in a racing scenario, your foot is below your body sooner and stays on the ground for a shorter time. And you look good!

Strong flexible quads help too. But that's another story.

Colin (top left) Kathy (hands up!), Amanda ("helping" Kathy) and some ring-ins, stretching

OK I have re-introduced in-line comment display, hoping the way it's done this time is better than last time I tried it (Feb 07). There were delays between the display of each post, which I think is now fixed. I will probably modify fonts, colours, header and slogan soon. I have been including more photos, those with very slow systems will let me know if loading is slow, won't you? And if you have any trouble adding a comment, let me know too.


  1. Thanks, I'll be counting my steps in my next run. I take it its not 180 on each foot :-)

  2. Yyyyyyup, left foot one, right foot two, ...

    Tesso you're an ipod wearer, you could use a metronome to find songs at 180, 90, 60 and load just those! One day I will make a list of such songs.

  3. can i cheat and count for 30 seconds and then multiply by 2? a minute is a lot of focus time for me. i might see a bird or a dog. maybe i'll do it when i run with mark. make him time.

    and start making the list of songs. you can't just say it and not do it. 'snot right.

  4. As long as you can count to three in one second you'll do fine!