Instead of deciding whether to shorten or lengthen your running stride, stick to what’s comfortable.
If you’ve been trying to find your ideal stride for a more efficient run, there’s no need for that. We’re always on the lookout for the best running stride, but researchers have found that your body naturally settles into a stride that works best.
According to a study published in the International Journal of Exercise Science, researchers found that your body is capable of self-optimising your stride length for the best running economy. Running economy basically refers to the amount of oxygen you need to run a distance at a fixed pace. The lesser oxygen required, the easier it’ll be for you to run a longer distance.
33 participants were gathered for the study, which included 19 experienced runners and 14 inexperienced runners. They were first required to complete a 20-minute preliminary run at a pace they were comfortable with to find the length of their stride. On their second visit, subjects wore masks that tracked their oxygen intake, to determine their running economy when using different strides. They had to run at their comfortable pace, and plus minus eight and 16 per cent of their regular stride length.
The results showed that when subjects altered the length of their natural running stride, whether shortening or lengthening it, their oxygen intake was increased. Running became harder for them and they were less efficient.
If you’re looking for the running stride that gives you the best running economy, stick to what you’re most comfortable with.