Stride rate: A Step in the right direction (Jack Daniel, PhD)
One of the things that I teach new runners is some basics about running cadence, or stride rate. Almost all elite distance runners (both men and women) tend to stride at the same rate: 180 or more steps per minute. This means that they are taking 90 or more steps with each foot each minute, a rate that doesn’t vary much even when they aren’t running fast. The main things that occurs as runners go faster is stride length, the faster they go, the longer the stride becomes, with little change in the rate of leg turnover.
The stride rate that many beginning runners take is quite different from that of an elite runner. When I have new runners count their own stride rates, I find that very few take as many as 180 steps per minute. In fact, some turn over as few as 160 times per minute. The main disadvantage of this slower turnover is that the slower you take steps, the longer you spend in the air, the higher you displace your body mass and the harder you hit the ground on landing. When you consider that many running injuries are the result of landing shock, it’s not surprising that experienced runners tend to turnover faster than beginning runners do. So, if you count your own stride rate and find it considerably slower than what I am suggesting try to work on a shorter, lighter stride. Focus on doing this during easy runs and the faster running will take care of itself.