Words: Kenny Wilson
The culprit blocking your path to a killer marathon pace might lie somewhere you'd never thought to look. It's time to pay your stride pattern some attention.
Stride length can significantly impact your overall speed and efficiency. In this blog we'll delve into the reasons a short stride might hold runners back and reveal some drills that could unlock your untapped running potential.
But before we get into the serious stuff, let me share an anecdote about the perils of a short stride...
The Tale of the Running Penguin: Once upon a time there lived a runner with a peculiar style, named Petra. With tight strides and a quick tempo, she more resembled a penguin than an athlete. Though her running passion burned bright, Petra couldn't understand why her rivals constantly outpaced her at marathons. The crowd would urge her on, cheering for the "Running Penguin," but she knew deep down there was untapped potential in her legs. Determined to shed her avian moniker and let her true pace take flight, Petra embarked on a mission to achieve a longer stride. To be continued... now lets stride into the crux of this pesky pace parachute.
A shorter stride may slow the progress of hard-working runners striving for new personal bests for three reasons...
– You cover less ground with each step, ultimately reducing your overall speed.
– A shorter stride can lead to over-striding; a common mistake where your foot lands too far ahead of your body, causing unnecessary braking forces and inefficiency.
– It can result in a higher cadence, which wastes expenditure with unnecessary extra movement and results in early fatigue.
Drills to Unlock Your Speed Potential:
Stride Lengthening Exercises: Incorporate exercises that focus on increasing your stride length. Practice exaggerated strides or bounding exercises to improve your range of motion and extend your step.
Cadence Control: Work on controlling your cadence to avoid excessive turnover. Incorporate cadence drills, such as tempo runs with a metronome, or running to a specific beat to help you find your ideal rhythm.
Plyometric Training: Engage in plyometric exercises like box jumps or single-leg hops to enhance your leg power, explosiveness, and stride length. These exercises will improve your ability to generate force and propel yourself forward efficiently.
Hill Repeats: Running uphill forces you to extend your stride and the incline activates the muscle groups necessary for a longer stride. Incorporate hill repeats into your training routine to improve both strength and stride length.
Video Analysis: Seek professional help or record yourself while running to analyse your form. A coach or expert can identify any issues in your form that may be hindering your stride pattern and provide personalised guidance.
If you're aiming to achieve that killer marathon pace, don't let your short stride pattern hold you back! By focusing on lengthening your stride and incorporating specific drills into your training routine, you can unlock your true speed potential.
Even Petra the "Running Penguin" was able to transform herself into a fast and efficient runner by focusing on stride pattern – catching up to those rivals who once left her flapping. Though the Running Penguin's nickname stuck, her previous personal bests didn't!
So embrace the journey, put in the effort and before you know it, you'll be flying past your competition to leave them wondering: what happened to that penguin?
"The science-based, personalised sessions are behind the gains but Kenny is brilliant at communicating and reading me as a person and rider." Charlie Meredith, British Junior National Series winner.