Simple Truths About 180 Strides Per Minute

It seems that I can’t turn around without reading another article about runners aiming for 180 strides per minute, or at least for an increased stride turnover. Many recreational runners are probably in the 160s, and have gotten the message that they should try to bump this up a little.

Maybe. But it’s not quite that simple. You need to figure out your goals first. Are you trying to run faster? Or are you trying to reduce injuries? The two might require different strategies.



If you increase your stride frequency, probably by decreasing your stride length, you won’t run any faster. That’s because 2 x 3, and 3 x 2 both equal six. You’ll run at about the same speed, or possibly even slower, since studies have shown that short, choppy strides are often inefficent – they lower your running economy. Elite runners are fast because they have high frequencies and long, efficient strides, and they train very hard and very specifically to maintain or improve both turnover and stride length.

Bottom line: Increasing your stride frequency isn’t likely to make you faster unless you are a hard-hitting heel striker who “reaches” too far with your front foot.



Increasing your stride frequency could help you reduce injuries. This isn’t firmly established, but it makes a lot of sense, as a shorter stride should produce lower forces with each footfall. Those who believe in a midfoot strike, which is easier to achieve when your front foot isn’t reaching too far, believe that midfooting also offers some injury protection.

Bottom line: A higher stride frequency, more like 180 per minute, might reduce the forces that contribute to injuries.


But here’s another subtlety when it comes to this discussion. High forces sound bad, right? Because they lead to injuries.

Perhaps in some runners, but not in all. Indeed, if you don’t break down, high-force production is your best friend. Usain Bolt probably produces more force than any other runner in the history of the world. His competitors would love to crank it out like he does.

As long as they didn’t get injured. Ultimately, that’s our goal as runners: to produce absolutely as much force as we can, without falling apart. It’s a fine line, and we all have to find our own balance point.

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