John's Running and Living

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strides per minute

leave a comment » stride rate of top runners is similar to the rate of average runners, usually 170 to 200 spm when racing from 5k through half marathon. Most all of the difference is in the length of the stride, a major difference in the ground that is traveled by the runner with each stride.

Five time World Cross Country Champion and Olympic 5000m Champion John Ngugi had a nice long stride, and a relatively low stride rate for his speed, as can be seen in his amazing victory in the 1992 World XC Championships in Boston (unavailable), over a rough 7.5 mile course in the snow. Ngugi was dominant in cross country, the first ever five time World Champion. Ngugi moved up during part 2 of 5 of this exciting race, recommended to see from the start.

Lasse Viren had a shorter stride and made up for this with the high rate of 200 spm during his 1972 Olympic 10000m race, and up to 214 spm the last 800 meters. Viren again ran 200 spm in the 1976 Olympics 10000m.

After his 3:51.0 WR mile in Jamaica in 1975, Filbert Bayi continued around the track at 153 spm and 6:00 pace to warm down. Try this, it’s not easy, for me anyway! This demonstrates how the same runner has a different stride length and rate at different speeds. rate is easy to chech with a stop watch, by counting the strides, and converting the result to 1 minute. I use a the countdown function, counting every 3rd stride from 0 to 10 (30 strides). Doing these in 10.9 or 10 seconds, would be 165 or 180 strides per minute.

The Korg ma20 metronome has a convenient tap function. By tapping the metronome every 3rd stride and multiplying by three, the spm is determined for any moment of a run. Another way is to count the strides for 110 yards or 100 meters.

The easiest way is to set the metronome for the rate that you want, say 56 beeps for 168 spm, or 60 beeps for 180 spm, and adjust this to match the stride rate that you want. This way the metronome beeps on every 3rd stride. I’ve found this is to be a great way to keep my stride rate and pace very even.

The important thing is to find the most efficient cadence for you.


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