How to Improve Your Stride Turnover

Two women running on dirt road
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Your stride turnover, or stride frequency, is how many steps you take during a minute of running. For most runners, stride turnover stays the same at various paces and speed changes are accomplished by altering their stride length.

Running with quick, short steps uses less energy than long strides and decreases the stress on the muscles. The slower your stride turnover, the longer you spend in the air. As a result, you'll hit the ground with much greater force. So a quicker turnover means less impact on your joints.

So, yes, improving your stride turnover is beneficial and can help you become a more efficient, faster runner. You'll also find yourself feeling more comfortable and less fatigued when running longer distances.

The most efficient runners have a high stride turnover—about 180 steps per minute. For many people, this stride turnover, also known as running cadence, is faster than they are used to attaining. But it's possible to improve your stride turnover with practice.

How to Count Your Stride Turnover

How do you know your stride turnover? It's easy; just time yourself for a minute of running and count how many times your right foot hits the ground. Then multiply that number by two to get your steps per minute. Once you determine your stride count and work on improving it, test yourself every week or so to see if you've increased the number.

How to Practice Faster Turnover

Here's a drill to help improve your stride turnover: Start by running at about your 5K pace for 60 seconds and counting every time your right foot hits the ground. Then jog for a minute to recover and run for 60 seconds again, this time trying to increase the count by one. Repeat this several times, and try to add another step each time.

As you're trying to increase your stride turnover rate, focus on taking quick, light steps. Pick your feet up as soon they hit the ground as if you're stepping on hot coals. Think to yourself, "Light on my feet, light on my feet." You should feel like you're gliding over the ground, not plodding. Be careful not to overstride. Your feet should be landing under your hips, not in front of you.

Doing running drills such as butt kicks, skipping, high knees, running backward, or side shuffles is another way you can work on improving your turnover since you need to be light on your feet and turnover quickly as you're doing them. As an additional benefit, they'll also help you practice landing mid-foot and avoid heel striking.

You can incorporate some running drills into your pre-run warm-up or work them into your runs. For example, you could intersperse 30-second intervals of high knees or backward running every 4 to 5 minutes during a 30-minute run.

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