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Generally, a shorter running stride is more efficient and less stressful
on your body than a longer stride. Runner with long strides tend to "over-stride"
where your foot lands far out in front of you, feel first. This has two significant
By using a shorter stride with a quicker turn-over rate (steps per minute), you
minimize the braking effect and shock stress on your body while maintaining the same
speed as before, and using less energy (because you aren't braking and then
accellerating on each step).
A shorter, quicker stride can take some getting used to. At first it can
feel awkward or more tiring than your normal stride. But if you keep practicing
your body will adapt and eventually the shorter, quicker stride will become
second nature to you.
Here are a couple of drills that you can use:
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For the average middle or back-of-the-pack runner, the main goal when running
up hills is to save as much energy as possible for the rest of the run. If you
go too hard up a hill, you end up having to slow down after the hill in order to
recover, which results in a slower overall race time. One way to avoid going
too hard is to concentrate on keeping your stride rate (number of steps per minute)
constant as you go from flat to up hill (see drill #1 above for stride rate
Keeping your stride rate constant help keep you from trying to "powering"
over the hill by taking long strides and pushing hard on each stride (which takes
a great amount of energy). As you start going up the hill, allow your forward
speed to decrease a bit and shorten your stride in order to keep the same stride
rate. Trust me, the time you loose by going a little slower up the hill you can
usually more than make up for by running faster on the flats and downhill sections.
Up Hill Drill - find a hill that takes you 30 seconds to a
minute to run up and has a gentle to meduim slope (not too steep). Start far
enough back from the hill so that you are in your "normal" stride before
you start climbing the hill (or do it in the middle of your run). Get the rhythm
of your run stride in your head, maybe matching the rhythm of a favorite song.
As the slope of hill increases shorten your stride and keep your stride rate
the same (don't slow down or speed up the song in your head). When you reach
the top of the hill, transition back to your normal stride length.
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Last updated: 09 Jun 2009.
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