NO RUNNING! — Lesson of the Week #3

February 18th, 2012 in NO RUNNING by 0 Comments


To get lessons sent to your phone, text the words FOLLOW NORUNMARK to 40404.

Increase your stride-length naturally

At the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Usain Bolt took advantage of his long stride-length to complete the 100M dash in 41 steps. He set a world record in the process. By comparison, the average professional requires approximately 45 steps to cover the distance. Obviously, Bolt’s height plays a part in his stride length, but so does flexibility and form.

For any distance, your time can be expressed by the number of steps required to cover the distance multiplied by the time required to complete each step (a.k.a. turnover). Both factors must be considered. Lengthening your stride will tend to slow your turnover. Conversely, increasing your turnover will tend to decrease your stride. For optimal performance, you have to discover your perfect balance. Along the way, it makes sense to work on three things:

1. Quickness, to decrease the time to complete each step.
2. Strength, to decrease the effort to complete each step.
3. Flexibility, to enable a longer smoother stride.

Item #3 is among the easiest to improve. In fact, you can increase your flexibility / stride-length without any extra time requirement. It’s simple. Just increase the length of the stride with which you walk! Look at the following picture:

It’s not exactly a technical drawing, but it does a great job of illustrating how to take longer strides. Note that both legs are fully extended. This will provide a nice stretch for you hamstrings, quads, and groin muscles. Also, the front toe is pointed upward. This will help to lengthen your stride while giving your calves an easy stretch. Meanwhile, the back toe is pushing off and therefore staying on the ground until the last possible moment. This is called “toeing off”. This creates the longest stride possible, while  strengthening your calves with each step.

Incidentally, toeing off is a critical aspect of ideal 800M form (a topic for another discussion, but research Sebastian Coe if you can’t wait).

The Bottom Line: This is a simple, but overlooked exercise. The average person takes over 5,000 steps per day. With this technique, that equates to a lot of stretching and strengthening. Considering that it takes no extra time out of your day, it’s a no-brainer addition to your training regimen!

To get lessons sent to your phone, text the words FOLLOW NORUNMARK to 40404.

Author: Mark

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