Friday, August 21, 2015

Stride Rate

When I returned to consistent running in 2009, I read a book called "Chi Running" by Danny Dreyer. While I don't believe in a one-size-fits-all stride, Danny Dreyer did make same good points. I could go into detail about what was and wasn't accurate in "Chi Running," but I leave that to more qualified individuals.

Several things about "Chi Running" stuck out to me, as did some of the running form advice in "Brain Training for Runners" by Matt Fitzgerald.

In my next few posts, I'll write about some things that have worked for me. Probably the best advice given in "Chi Running" is to increase stride rate. Stride rate can be calculated by number of steps per minute. The easiest way to determine stride rate is by counting the number of times one foot hits the ground in a minute and multiplying by two.

Numerous studies have suggested that runners self-select a stride rate most economical for them. If you've been running injury free for a long time, there's no reason to change your stride rate. If, however, you have an injury or history of injuries, stride rate is one thing you could look into.

While there is no magic number for selecting a stride rate, most will recommend running between 170 and 190 strides per minute.

In 2012, I suffered an impaction fracture of my femur and tibia. My rehab went well, but since that time I've yet to put together a solid year of consistent running. My personal records in both the half and full marathons are still from 2012.

In 2013 I found myself suffering acute knee pain. A few trips to my favorite physical therapist, Sam Olson, had me put back together in decent enough shape to run a sub-three hour marathon in St. Louis.

Sam took a look at my stride through slow motion video, and pointed out a few things I could fix. One easy fix was increasing my stride rate.

My wife, Laura, has also dealt with a couple of running injuries including plantar fascitis and knee bursitis. She was also advised to increase her stride rate.

Increasing stride rate can be done a few ways, but the easiest way is to listen to a metronome as you run. I'd aim for slowly increasing stride rate for a week or so until you're closer to 180 steps per minute. Aim for an increase of 3-5 steps per minute every run. Research has shown that this can alleviate knee pain and other running ailments.

The following video does a nice job describing how to safely increase your stride rate:

Run well.

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