Over striding is one of the most common technical flaws I see as a running coach. It can be seen when an individual lands and loads their foot in front of their centre of mass as shown by the red line in image above, rather than underneath their body as shown by the green line. There are several injury concerns related to this flaw, however a runner's speed is also negatively affected. Here are 3 reasons why:
1. Delay of next step - If the foot lands way out in front of the body as shown, then the whole body has to transfer over the foot before you're in a position where you're able to push off the forefoot and into your next stride. This takes time and whilst we're talking split seconds per stride, multiply that time by the number of steps you take in a long distance race and cumulatively, you've lost a lot of time to over striding.
2. Direction of force - Regardless of whether you're heel striking or forefoot/ midfoot striking, if you're landing and loading way out in front, the foot landing exerts braking force. Known as ground reaction forces, they will be going in the wrong direction (backwards rather than forwards). Just like when a shovel digs in the ground, your foot will be acting like a brake every time you hit the surface.
3) Amount of braking force - if you're over striding, it's very likely that your cadence (rate of which your feet turn over) is low and therefore you're spending a lot of time air born. If you spend too much time air born, the braking force on landing will be very high. This is not only detrimental to speed but is also a concern with regards to injury.
So what is the answer and how do we overcome over striding and run faster and more efficiently? There are of course many pieces to the puzzle but an essential part of eradicating over striding is higher cadence. A faster turnover will encourage you to land your feet underneath your body rather than out in front. This will allow you to be in a better position to push off into the next stride quicker, as well as reducing the braking forces. Next time you're on a run, pick either your left or right foot, and count how many times that foot strikes the ground in a minute. Multiply that number by 2 and you have your running cadence for that pace. A good cadence to aim for is 180. Please note there is not one ideal number for everyone, however 180 is a good starting point and I encourage all my athletes to run at this rate or above. To measure your progress it's a good idea to count and record your cadence on a regular basis.
Written by Marc Brown