I’ve been reading a lot of stride length and flexibility lately. Let me start off saying I am not flexible. I really struggled with the sit and reach in Middle School. In PT last year my hamstring angle was 55 degrees. Yeah, that bad. I’ve worked on it a lot since then.
The subject of stride length keeps coming up in articles. I’m also reading Pfitz’ Advanced Marathoning and it comes up in a chapter. The basic idea is that if you’re more flexible you’ll be able to reach a little further and run further with each step. Sounds like a great idea right? That’s why they started making massively padded shoes, for all you heel strikers out there. So how do you get a bigger stride length without being a heel striker? Flexibility. Lots of exercises that increase flexibility. That’s part of the idea behind a number of the drills runners are supposed to do. Now, I never ran in high school or college so drills are new to me.
If you increase your stride length by say one inch. At 180 strides per minute, we’re talking about 5 meters per minute. If you run 5 minute miles, it’s about 25 meters which is a nearly 5 seconds a mile. Sure it doesn’t sound like a lot at first, but if you add a few inches on you’re taking serious time off your 5k.
I’ve noticed while out running that much slower runners have the same cadence I do. I’m running much faster than them, so what is the difference? It’s stride length. I get more lift and a longer step and that’s why I’m jogging 7:15s and they’re jogging 10:00s. So maybe there’s something to this stride length thing. It might be a waste of time, but I’ll do some flexibility drills just in case. It also can’t hurt injury resistance.