Steve Cram had one of the longest strides of his generation, modern science tells us that stretching is bad for running performance, yet Steve gave this advice to this question: [below]
To get faster, should I increase stride length or turnover?
Steve Cram says: ‘Both will help, but don’t try to increase your stride length by changing your running action. Instead, aim to increase your flexibility in your hamstrings and quads, which will add length. Gentle downhill running will increase leg speed because it encourages you to move quicker. Also, do intervals where you consciously increase your cadence.’
UK Prime Minister David Cameron recently led some of his Afghan troops in a run and provided an excellent example of how not to run.
It’s not efficient to run upright. Even the soldier to his left has 8 degrees of forward tilt. Most elite runners have 13 degrees. The only time an efficient runner runs upright is to slow down after crossing the finish line.
Our research has found that you increase your stride length 2% for every degree you increase your Stride Angle. The inverse is also true. You decrease your stride length 2% for every degree you decrease your Stride Angle. With a 70-degree Stride Angle (one of the lowest we have measured), David Cameron is covering 40% less ground than the average, slow marathon runner. Good marathon runners have a Stride Angle over 100 degrees, which means that Cameron is covering 60% less ground than they are. Samuel Wanjiru, for instance, won the 2008 Olympic Marathon with a Stride Angle of 106 degrees. It highly unlikely that Cameron and his soldiers are running a marathon in the Afghan desert. Generally speaking, the shorter the distance, the bigger the Stride Angle.
Why does David Cameron have such an inefficient stride? Basically, he is tense and stiff. You can see evidence of this tension in his toe lift, which is a phenomenal 27 degrees. Good runners don’t bother to lift their toes when running, as it is a waste of energy. Plus, when the toes are lifted like Cameron’s, it forces the runner to land on his heel, which slams the foot flat on the ground, violently stretching the very muscles that the runner is contracting to maintain toe lift. This forceful stretching of contracted muscles tears the tens of thousands of tiny muscle fibers that make up the shin muscles. This leads to fatigue, shin splints and even stress fractures. Efficient runners not only don’t lift their toes while running, they often have negative toe lift.
Other evidence of Cameron’s tension is his hands. As you can see here, he tenses up his hands and fingers as he runs, another waste of energy. Compare his hands to his soldier to his left.
Unfortunately for Britain, host to the 2012 Olympics, a tiny Stride Angle is not confined to their Prime Minister. Nearly all the ‘elite’ British runners we have measured have tiny Stride Angles. Here are photos of their ‘best’ runners.
Jemma Simpson runs the 800 and 1500 for Britain with a Stride Angle of only 84 degrees. Little wonder that she is so ineffective internationally, where most of her competitors have a Stride Angle over 100 degrees.
Lisa Dobriskey managed only a 4th place finish at Beijing because of her tiny Stride Angle.
Christine Ohuruogu squeaked to a win at Beijing in the 400, but managed just 5th and 6th place finishes in big meets in 2009.
This is what the competition looks like. Sanya Richards of the USA had the top four fastest times in the 400 in 2009.
800m runner Michael Rimmer did not medal at Beijing and managed only 4th place at the Bislett games this year because of his tiny Stride Angle.
1500m runner Andrew Baddeley is one of Britain’s ‘top’ runners, but finished 8th at the Beijing finals and 11th in the semi-finals in Berlin this year.
Britain was not always so poor at middle-distance running. In the early 1980′s, Britain dominated middle-distance with Sebastian Coe. Of course, he had large Stride Angle.
Of course, it’s quite easy to increase the Stride Angle in runners. We do it every day at Somax by releasing tension and microfibers.
Increasing our runner’s Stride Angle from 95 degrees to 125 degrees took just a few weeks and enabled him to increase his stride length by 60%. Most of our recreational runners cut a minute per mile off their running pace after we increase their Stride Angle.
You would think than anyone could look at pictures of Sebastian Coe and the current crop of British runners and see that they need to increase their Stride Angle. But runners in Britain don’t see things this way. I told a British marathoner many years ago that we could improve his marathon times immediately by increasing his Stride Angle. He replied that ‘we believe that every runner is born with his own running style and shouldn’t try to change it. You have to play with the hand that was dealt to you.’
Thankfully, they don’t have the same attitude about their buildings, airplanes, cars, bridges, telephones, clothes, cameras, Army and Navy or they would still be fighting in wooden ships and flying in wooden planes.
Perhaps the shock of losing every race at the 2012 London Olympics will force them to rethink their ideas and Britain may one day regain the well-deserved glory they enjoyed in the 80′s.