How to Open Your Stride While Running
Stride is a large part of increasing your speed when you run. It is one of two key factors, the other being pace. Improving your overall strength is one step in the process of stride adjustment. Training your explosive strength is another. This may include weightlifting and exercises to improve muscle mass and drills to enhance your gait form. Talk to your doctor before beginning any running program to ensure your heart is healthy.
Set up a fitness routine that includes weight training and flexibility exercises. Strength training will improve the musculature of your legs and reduce incidence of injury while you run. Do strength training on off days, or days when you do not run. You should begin strength training prior to enhancing your running program.
Start your drills with a 15-minute warm-up jog. Keep the pace slow and steady. Concentrate on your stride, but not on enhancing it. Focus on understanding the mechanics of the movement as you jog.
Do skipping drills. This teaches your body the proper format for stride. Start at one end of a field and skip for 60 feet. Use both your arms and legs in the movement. Lift one leg up and propel your body forward. At the same time, swing the opposite arm. The knee should come parallel to the ground. Turn around at the end of the drill and jog back to start.
Turn around and do a stride run for the same length. Stride runs are slow jogs where you focus on proper stride. The touchdown of the front leg should be between 6 to 12 inches in front of your torso. This move will be similar to skipping. Coach and elite masters runner Pete Megill explains that by doing one drill immediately after the other, you train the legs to improve the stride. Once you stride run the drill length, turn and walk slowly back to start.
Perform bounding drills. To bound, you do a slow sprint where you spring forward at the beginning of each stride. The move is almost a leap, but in running format. Do this move carefully at first until you become accustomed to the bounding practice. Push off with the back leg and stretch the front leg out as far as possible. This drill helps to build leg strength and maximize your stride. Pushing off with the back leg is the key to a natural, long stride. Repeat the drill as many times as you wish.
Run your normal route on days you do not do drills or after your drill. Incorporate stride-out drills into your run. A stride-out is a 100 meter dash where you increase your speed and focus on lengthening your stride. Walk for a few minutes after each stride-out drill to rest, and begin your jog again at a slow, steady pace.
- Cavagna GA, Saibene FP, Margaria R. MECHANICAL WORK IN RUNNING. J Appl Physiol. 1964;19:249-56. doi: 10.1152/jappl.19220.127.116.11
- CAVANAGH, P. R., & KRAM, R. (1989). Stride length in distance running. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 21(4), 467???479. doi:10.1249/00005768-198908000-00020
- De Ruiter, C. J., Verdijk, P. W. L., Werker, W., Zuidema, M. J., & de Haan, A. (2013). Stride frequency in relation to oxygen consumption in experienced and novice runners. European Journal of Sport Science, 14(3), 251–258. doi:10.1080/17461391.2013.783627
- HEIDERSCHEIT, B. C., CHUMANOV, E. S., MICHALSKI, M. P., WILLE, C. M., & RYAN, M. B. (2011). Effects of Step Rate Manipulation on Joint Mechanics during Running. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 43(2), 296–302. doi:10.1249/mss.0b013e3181ebedf4
- Salo AI, Bezodis IN, Batterham AM, Kerwin DG. Elite sprinting: are athletes individually step-frequency or step-length reliant?. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2011;43(6):1055-62. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e318201f6f8
- Schubert, A. G., Kempf, J., & Heiderscheit, B. C. (2014). Influence of stride frequency and length on running mechanics: a systematic review. Sports health, 6(3), 210–217. doi:10.1177/1941738113508544
- van Oeveren, B. T., de Ruiter, C. J., Beek, P. J., & van Dieën, J. H. (2017). Optimal stride frequencies in running at different speeds. PloS one, 12(10), e0184273. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0184273
Writing since 1999, Darla Ferrara is an award-winning author who specializes in health, diet, fitness and computer technology. She has been published in "Mezzo Magazine" and Diet Spotlight, as well as various online magazines. Ferrara studied biology and emergency medical technology at the University of Nebraska and Southeast Community College.