When I am teaching a new group of runners the first thing I have them do is count their stride frequencies while running around the track. I can’t remember ever having one of these beginners who turned over as fast as 180 steps per minute. However, when my wife and I sacrificed some enjoyable race-watching moments at the 1984 Olympics to time and count stride rates among male and female runners in their important Olympic events, we found only one of about 47 athletes whom we observed, who took less than 180 steps per minute. Some of these “subjects” we were able to study on several days because they were involved in preliminary and final rounds in their event, so the observations involved more than just 47 incidents.
[Editor’s Note: Many runners and coaches have heard that 180 steps per minute is a proper cadence and that comes from Dr. Daniels’ observing/counting the steps of elite runners in the 1984 Olympics. Some get fixated on hitting a rate of 180 but there are so many variables in terms of speed, goals, and the running background of the individual. The main point gets lost and that’s reducing landing shock to help prevent injuries and avoid overstriding. If you read Jack’s book, Daniels’ Running Formula, the section title in Chapter 5 illustrates this point, “Stride Rate: A Step In The Right Direction”]
[Editor’s Note: The key to training effectively for the Boston Marathon is how well you strategically incorporate undulating terrain in your workouts. But what if you don’t have easy access to undulating terrain? We asked the master on how a runner can utilize the treadmill to help prepare for the course at Boston.]
By Dr. Jack Daniels
Most important is to not do too much or too steep downhill running as this really stresses the quads. I’d suggest only about 2% grade (both during uphill and downhill running on the treadmill. The speed will be about 10-12 seconds per mile faster than anticipated flat marathon pace when running downhill and about 12-15 sec per mile slower than flat marathon pace when running uphill.
Question: Jack Daniels has done some studies on premier runners and found their stride rate to be 180+ strides a minute. Is this for a particular distance race such as half and full marathons or is this for all distances from 5K and up?
I am training for a half marathon and my stride rate is at 160 strides a minute. Should I try to reduce my stride length to achieve a higher stride rate or should I stay where I am and try something different?