One Quarter of an Inch
By Coach Al Lyman, CSCS
When asked what he thought was man’s greatest invention, Albert Einstein didn't reply the wheel, the lever, or for that matter, anything else you might expect, he replied, “compound interest.” Do you remember when you first learned about this seemingly magical way to earn money, faster and more easily?
What if I told you there was a way to "get rich" as a runner, by taking advantage of the same basic principles as those that make compound interest "man's greatest invention?” What I'm really talking about here is the ability to "compound" SPEED gains, with no extra heart-beats required.
Well, there IS a way, and it's actually quite simple. Here's the deal:
If you add 1/4 inch to your stride length naturally, without forcing it artificially, you will be running about 10-seconds per mile faster at the same intensity.
Don't believe me? Ever counted how many strides you take in a mile? Depending upon your speed and intensity, it’s about 1500.
If you were to get one-quarter inch more length out of each of those 1500 strides, you'd cover about 40 to 50 feet more at the same intensity. That's another way of saying you're going to run about 10-seconds per mile faster.
How hard would you have to train to get 10-seconds per-mile improvement?
Imagine a 30-second improvement in your 5k finish time without having to do a single hard run workout! In a marathon, you could instantly improve by as much as 5-minutes or more depending upon your speed, just by adding 1/4" to your stride length! (Add more than 1/4" and you get even faster!)
The catch is, you can't just reach out further to grab more ground with your legs. Doing that would result in some over-striding and might get you injured. Not good.
So how do you get that extra 1/4" the right way?
By improving your stability, mobility and strength, that's how.
Even just a bit more hip mobility = greater (and easier) range of motion, more elastic recoil and a longer, more powerful stride, naturally. (Did you know that 50% of the energy that propels you forward during the running stride comes from elastic and reactive “energy-return” of your muscles?)
Similarly, a more stable and stronger core and hips = LESS time spent in contact with the ground and LESS energy leak, making each stride more efficient and powerful.
Sure, achieving either of these improvements will take some effort, but the way I look at it, any improvement we can make that doesn't require more gut-busting track or tempo sessions, is worth exploring, don't you think?
To your success,
Coach Al Lyman, CSCS
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