Here are the images for you again from last week’s blog. This week we will explore the relationship between over-striding and cadence. Below each photo I have written the athletes cadence in steps per minute. Each athlete was asked to run at their current 5km pace.
Cadence: 188 Cadence: 184
Cadence: 194 Cadence: 196
Cadence: 180 Cadence: 196
Cadence: 177 Cadence: 180
Firstly, you can see there is a significant variation in cadence within a small group all running at 5km pace. Whether or not they were running at 5km pace is difficult to say as the trials were run over a much shorter distance. It does beg the question that if there is so much individual variation in cadence should we really expect everyone to run most efficiently at a cadence of 180 steps per minute? I don’t think it is that simple.
Secondly, over-striding is often said to be a problem in athletes who have long slow strides. You can see however that some of the athletes above, with a cadence of 180 or more, still seem to be over-striding. While experimenting with increasing cadence may benefit some of the athletes who appear to be over-striding, others may need a different approach.
What strategies might be used then to reduce the tendency to over-stride? Video analysis and giving feedback to the athlete using images like this I am sure will prove to be very useful. We can use specific running drills to encourage appropriate placement of the foot without ‘reaching’ for the landing. Coach Mick Cairns describes some cues and drills in his comment here from an earlier blog. Performing ‘strides’ before and after a main set can be very effective. Strides are short efforts of 60-100m focussing on maximising efficiency through making small changes to your technique e.g. keeping the body slightly more upright rather than leaning forwards. It is very difficult to over-stride while running up a hill. A gentle incline that flattens out at the top would be ideal for working on this aspect of technique. The athlete would run up the hill and then try to maintain the same stride characteristics, in terms of placement of the foot, when they reach the flat section.
The last thing I want to do is make people paranoid about the way they run. The most important thing is that you are running injury free, enjoying your running and happy with your performance. If you are all of the above then keep on running because contrary to popular belief it is actually very good for you. I can’t wait to see this new film, to be released this summer, featuring some of the world’s greatest ever distance runners! See you in the weekend, Tim (LFTC Coach).