180 Strides per Minute

Welcome! Forums Running Forum 180 Strides per Minute

This topic contains 8 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  Husker 13 years, 3 months ago.

  • Author
    Posts
  • #2202

    Husker
    Member

    So I always read everywhere that 180 strides per minute is the gold standard of running, and that this is what all the elites do regardless of pace. I decided to check myself the last two times I’ve run on the treadmill. I set the treadmill on my easy pace speed and counted strides in a given minute, probably 25 different times throughout the runs. I found that at an easy pace I get closer to 160 to 170 strides per minute. If I really concentrated on increasing stride frequency I’d be closer to 174-176, but never got to 180, not while running my general aerobic pace.

    So, my question is, shouldn’t ideal stride rate vary depending on the individual? I’m 6’4” and to get anywhere near 180 at an easy pace I have to take unnaturally tiny steps for me. It actually feels somewhat tougher aerobically to run this way than with my natural relaxed gait. Plus I seem to bounce up and down and get greater vertical displacement when I run with an increased stride rate.

    It seems that most elites are under 6′ tall. Of course, I’m no elite but I really don’t think 180 strides/minute is the ideal for me.

    Thoughts?

  • #17551

    I’d guess each individual is unique but with that said why not take the treadmill out of the equation and try it on a track or other flat surface.

  • #17552

    Husker
    Member

    I’d guess each individual is unique but with that said why not take the treadmill out of the equation and try it on a track or other flat surface

    I have tried keeping track a few times while running outside, but when I increase my stride frequency towards 180 I invariably speed up. I’ve recently done these trials on the treadmill to keep my pace constant.

    I’ve always heard that good runners have a constant stride frequency no matter what the pace. Personally I’m in the 160s at easy pace, but much closer to 180 when running faster. I guess elite types mainly rely on increased stride length when increasing pace, whereas I seem to increase both stride frequency and stride length. I would love to hear what the stride frequency of tall elite runners are. How tall is Culpepper? I’ll never be anywhere close to elite, but I wonder if I should work on increasing my stride frequency or does my body automatically optimize stride rate/length given my individual characteristics?

  • #17553

    r-at-work
    Member

    I think you may have hit on one important fact… when you get closer to 180 you tend to speed up… maybe that’s one of the things that makes an elite runner, the abiltiy to get that turnover rate and keep it going… I read somewhere that someone had counted the 5K & 10K stride rates during the Olympics and they were even faster, like 190…

    I know myself when I am doing an easy run I tend to slow the turnover rate down… I CAN take teeny tiny steps and keep the stride rate up but it feels really strange… I guess it’s what you get used to… I keep doing warmup drills to help me with my turnover when I run at the track, not sure if the treadmill is a safe place to try these kind of things…

    This weekend I was watching at my son’s track meet, and the Boston meet on TV, the runners up front (noticeable when they lap someone) have a very quick turnover as opposed to the slower runners NO MATTER HOW TALL THEY ARE… it always impresses me when a short runner passes a taller runner (I’m short)…

  • #17554

    Ryan
    Keymaster
    Husker wrote:
    …or does my body automatically optimize stride rate/length given my individual characteristics?

    There’s the key. Your body will find its most efficient form according to its current fitness level and strengths/weaknesses. If you want to increase your stride rate, you should probably be doing what some people call “fast foot drills”.

    r-at-work wrote:
    it always impresses me when a short runner passes a taller runner

    I don’t know why. There is reason to believe that shorter runners hold an advantage over taller runners in long distance events. Just take a look at some of the elites and you might realize there is likely some truth to this, as most are much shorter than most people who only see them on TV and in pictures think.

  • #17555

    r-at-work
    Member

    I suppose the tall vs. short thing (for me) stems from the idea that in order to go faster you lengthen your stride, at least that’s what my kid keeps telling me… and you’d think that a taller person would have a longer stride… “How tall is Culpepper?”… I have never seem a race where the winner strides in with a slow turnover rate… and the indoor track(this weekend) & even the Olympic marathons I watched (this summer) everyone seemed to have a quick turn over…

    it is more obvious at the HS level where all levels of skill and tealent compete… two years ago I did work with a track group that did LOTS of form drills, including rapid turnover drills… and while I also believe that your body finds the most efficient stride for you, I think you can improve your form and therefore your efficiency… assuming you aren’t already where you should be… that is to say, I JOGGED for so many years that my turn over rate had become slower than it needed to be… with drill practice I improved somewhat and my race times as well…

  • #17556

    Ryan
    Keymaster
    r-at-work wrote:
    I suppose the tall vs. short thing (for me) stems from the idea that in order to go faster you lengthen your stride, at least that’s what my kid keeps telling me… and you’d think that a taller person would have a longer stride…

    The thing many people forget or don’t understand is that leg length has very little to do with stride length. Regardless of how long your legs are, there is only a very limited distance you can cover while your foot is planted on the ground and longer legs do very little to increase that distance. Stride length is almost solely determined by your power output directed toward forward propulsion, not by the length of your legs.

    r-at-work wrote:
    …and while I also believe that your body finds the most efficient stride for you, I think you can improve your form and therefore your efficiency… assuming you aren’t already where you should be… that is to say, I JOGGED for so many years that my turn over rate had become slower than it needed to be… with drill practice I improved somewhat and my race times as well…

    Most definitely but the way to change is not to try to make a conscious decision while running. The way to change is to increase the types of strength and flexibility that factor into good form so your body will naturally find a more economical stride. Drills, as well as simply running a lot, are the keys to this development.

  • #17557

    EastRiver
    Member
    Ryan wrote:
    Most definitely but the way to change is not to try to make a conscious decision while running. The way to change is to increase the types of strength and flexibility that factor into good form so your body will naturally find a more economical stride. Drills, as well as simply running a lot, are the keys to this development.

    I think it is important to focus on increasing your stride rate while running, as well as to do the sort of strength and flexibility conditioning and efficiency drills that are conducive to a faster turnover. It seems to me that unless you’re consciously trying to run differently, you’ll continue to run your usual way. Eventually, you’ll adopt that different way of running and no longer will have to to think about it.

    Some findings suggest that consciously quickening your turnover can make you faster. Here is an excerpt from a New York Times article by Gina Kolata, published August 10, 2004, along those lines (an excellent article overall, by the way, though no longer available for free from the NYT’s Web site):

    Exercise physiologists are focusing on ways to make runners more efficient. They speculate that a number of factors might determine efficiency, and that some, like the biochemistry of the runner’s muscles or the structure of the runner’s body, are simply innate. But one factor, stride length, might be amenable to change.

    About 20 percent of the competitive runners that Dr. [Don] Morgan [an exercise physiologist and recreational runner at Middle Tennessee State University] and his colleagues tested were overstriding, or taking steps too large for maximum efficiency. None were taking steps that were too small. The researchers set out to train the overstriders to take shorter steps.

    For three weeks, five times a week, the athletes ran on treadmills at the physiology lab, their pace set by the beat of a metronome. That rhythm forced the runners to shorten their strides, and, as a consequence, they ran about 3 percent faster.

  • #17558

    GTF
    Member
    Husker wrote:
    So I always read everywhere that 180 strides per minute is the gold standard of running, and that this is what all the elites do regardless of pace.

    Well, with a degree of variance — for elite athletes.

    So, my question is, shouldn’t ideal stride rate vary depending on the individual?

    It is unclear just which sources have been consulted, but this is worth reading: http://www.runningtimes.com/issues/04sep/pfitz.htm

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.