On I went, out of the wood, passing the man leading without knowing I was going to do so. Flip-flap, flip-flap, jog-trot, jog-trot, curnchslap-crunchslap, across the middle of a broad field again, rhythmically running in my greyhound effortless fashion, knowing I had won the race though it wasn't half over, won it if I wanted it, could go on for ten or fifteen or twenty miles if I had to and drop dead at the finish of it, which would be the same, in the end, as living an honest life like the governor wanted me to. -Alan Sillitoe, "Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner"

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A serious question

Like, seriously serious.  Like, please leave a comment if you have a thought/suggestion/idea.

And here it is: should I be shortening my stride?

This month and last month's Runner's Worlds both made mention of the fact that shortening one's stride is an effective way of lowering your injury risk.  I can see how that would be, biomechanically, but then when I'm out there running, it's counterintuitive.  My body seems to want to lengthen my stride, especially as I go faster.

What gives?

Also, while you're commenting, I have to decide what shoes to wear for my half this weekend.  All of my beloved Asics now give me blisters in my arch, even the newest pair.  My Karhus, which I love for short distances, would probably be too light for the length.

That leaves:
a) the Brooks I wear tested (which I've only worn once and am still unsure of)
b) my black Nike LunarGlides (love them, but they're a half size too small)
c) my grey Nike LunarGlides (right size - brand spanking new)
d) other?


  1. Do not mess with your stride! At least not at this point. As you increase your mileage, and if you want I can give some tips on plyometrics, but they are not necessary and that might also increase your injury risk. I have a really short stride, and I still get injured so I don't know if that is truly the answer.

    I choose C for your shoes. I would recommend D if you had gone out and tried on the Brooks T6 I suggested!

  2. I can probably fit in a 7m tonight in whichever shoes I decide to wear.

  3. 1. If you really want to worry about this kind of stuff, focus on cadence, not stride length. Yes, your stride naturally lengthens as you run faster and shortens as you slow down. But your cadence should remain relatively constant. Count how many times your left foot strikes the groud in a minute. Ideally, it should be around 88-92, regardless of speed. If its less than this, try speeding up your leg turnover (without running faster).

    I definitely think there's something to this. I started focusing on my cadence about 4 years ago, forcing myself to maintain that 90-mark regardless of how fast I was running. I have been (almost) injury free since, and I used to ALWAYS be injured.

    At first this high cadence felt ridiculous, but I got used to it. Of course, my wife asked me recently why I take "little baby steps" when I run, so maybe I look ridiculous as well.

    2. You have too many damn shoes.

  4. That's fascinating. How did you focus on your cadence, Mike? Did you use a metronome?

    This is going to make me sound like a novice, but at the running club I went to last night the coach advised us to focus on our breathing. And I had no idea that breathing rhythmically (I was at 2 breaths/stride when I was warmed up) could be an effective pacing tool. My heart rate was actually lower than usual, even though I was running slightly faster.

    And yeah, yeah, I do have too many shoes. You should see the non-running collection. And Mandy - I thought you said the Brooks were super lightweight?

  5. +1 on not messing with the stride. RW contradicts itself monthly - the only reason I renewed last time was because it was part of a sweet Running Times / Runner's World combo. Running Times rocks! (PS, how much of a dork am I? wow.)

  6. I vote C for shoes! Though hopefully you could wear them a bit beforehand. Why do you have all these shoes that give you blisters!?