Stop Over-striding and Improve Your Cadence with 1 Running Drill

I know, this seems like a pretty bold statement doesn't it?

Especially because it feels like a 2 for 1 deal…

But that's because it is.

Stride length and cadence are inseparable.

Like Frodo and Sam.

Bono and U2.

Millennials and their iced coffees.

But let's back up a hot second and:

  • define what over-striding is

  • and what the heck cadence is

So in non-fancy words, stride length is:

  • how long your step is.

  • How much ground to you cover with a single stride?

Over-striding is biting off more than you can chew. You're in such a hurry to go faster, go further, that your stride length becomes loooonger. And that's not always better.

Our bodies work on a spectrum and stride length is no different.

Over-striding is when your stride is too long, too large and in charge. It's beyond your optimum stride length in the spectrum of "how long can you step?".

Cadence on the other hand is:

  • simply how many steps do you take in a minute.

  • That's it. That's all.

You can literally count your cadence while you're walking around the grocery store if you really wanted to. There's nothing fancy about it.

(Still feeling a little confused? You're not alone. I've got some resources: check out this blog for more on stride length and this blog for more on cadence. Don't forget to come back!)

Then what's the big deal about either of them and why should I care,

Because they're peanut butter and jelly.

Choco syrup on vanilla ice cream…and now I'm hungry.

What the scientific literature has found within the past 10 years, and specifically honed in on in the past 5 years, is how much stride length and cadence impact each other. There's recent research out there stating boldly that you CANNOT train cadence without impacting stride length. It's IMPOSSIBLE.

And I'd agree.

Here's why.

Stride length and cadence are in an everlasting, inverse relationship.

As one goes up, the other goes down.

As you take more steps per minute, your stride length gets shorter. As you take fewer steps per minute, your stride length increases.

If you need a visual, take one of mine.

I'm 5'2.75". Exactly.

The husband: 6' 3".

(yes, we look ridiculous and yes, I wear heels even though they're "bad" for runners…whatever.)

The point is, tall, lumber-jack husband over here takes off walking at a brisk pace. But with those mile long legs, there's no way I'm catching up, even if I take huge, long steps. To make up the difference and cover the distance, I have to break into a light jog.

Which did what?