Stride length, it is.


What a fabulous, overcast day to do a long run! 16 miles along the beach, and most of all, the perfect temperature (63 degrees) in spite of the sun peeking through the clouds in the early part of the run.

The Surf City Marathon is only 6 weeks away.

Week 9 4 Rest 6 4 Rest 12 Rest 26
5.62 2.66 12.39 20.67
Week 8 4 Rest 6 4 Rest 14   28
4.75 6.02 4.54 14.15 29.46
Week 7 4 Rest 7 4 Rest 16   31
4.45 6.10 4.44 16.01 31.00
Week 6 5 Rest 8 5 Rest 16   34
Week 5 5 Rest 8 5 Rest 17   35
Week 4 5 Rest 8 5 Rest 18   36
Week 3 5 Rest 8 5 Rest 20   38
Week 2 5 Rest 8 5 Rest 9   27
Week 1 3 Rest 5 3 Rest 8   19
Final Week 3 Rest 3 2 Rest 26.2   34.2

Somehow my schedule shows that the next weekend will be another 16 mile run weekend. I could just skip it and increase another mile to that, but it may be a good idea to see where I stand by comparing both this weekend’s result and the next weekend’s.

12:20:14 Saturday run

Although I felt my legs were quite tired for the last mile and a half or so, overall, to my surprise, today’s 16 mile run went really well.

So, what did I do differently today?

From the start, I kept my ‘comfortable’ pace. For the last two runs during the past week, I had a concern with my pace. I started running too fast. Not only did I get myself too tired when I didn’t even reach the 4 mile mark but also I was having hard time breathing even with a slightest elevation gain. So, maybe I had a PR, it was definitely something that I had to fix. And fix it fast.

But I didn’t know how.

Since today’s run was a long run, and I didn’t want to get myself too tired to finish it, so I simply decided to start running at a slower pace. I still had MetroMeter ticktocking my ears off. In fact, it was still hammering at the tempo of 92. And I still had my Garmin watch alert me every time when my cadence dipped below 180 SPM.

And it kept beeping. It would be a lie if I say I didn’t pay attention to the alerts. As a matter of fact, I picked up the pace just a bit to stay above 180 whenever I heard the beep. Well, to be honest, I thought I did pick up the pace a bit anyway. But sometimes, it beeped again and again nonstop, indicating that I wasn’t really picking up the pace.

However, today, my focus was not on cadence.

“What do you mean?” you would ask.

You may even point at the posts where I was talking about cadence over and over.

“Exactly,” you would concur.

Oh, well, things have changed. And, now, it is all about stride length. And, before you say another word, let me stop you right there and explain it a little bit.

12:15:14 Monday   12:17:14 Wednesday12:18:14 Thursday12:20:14 Saturday

From left to right, the stats above consist of my cadences and stride lengths which were recorded from last Monday (12/15), Wednesday (12/17), Thursday (12/18) and today. Before I get to the part where what these stats are actually telling you, let me quickly cover a couple of variables that played behind these stats.

  • I had my Garmin watch alert me every time when my cadence dropped below 188 SPM on Monday, like I noted above. However, I found it too fast, so, I decided to decrease it to 184 for the Wednesday run. However, I thought to myself that I could go even lower, due to the fact that my lungs were burning whenever there was even a slight elevation gain, so I changed it to 180. That was last Thursday and today
  • I had a tempo of 94 on MetroMeter on Monday, thinking that it would translate into 188 SPM, which was wrong. I already covered that in the previous post. Besides, I found the tempo too fast anyway, so I considered dropping it to 92 or 90. However, I also found that 90 was rather too slow for me when I stared running on Wednesday. So, it ended up being 92, and I kept it for today as well

So, if I go back to the stats above;

  • All four of my average cadences are at the same 186 SPM. Don’t know how I got there, but it never changed. In other words, my cadence ends up being same, whether I start running fast and then get tired rather quickly, or I run at my comfortable pace throughout
  • My average stride lengths has shortened since Monday, except for Thursday. In order to explain what this means, I’ll also have to cover the timings recorded for the same days, which are listed below

12:15:14 Monday pace 12:17:14 Wednesday pace 12:18:14 Thursday pace 12:20:14 Saturday pace

From left to right, the stats above show the changes in my average pace, from 6:55 min/mi Monday to 7:44, today. If I put them side by side for comparison, they look like this.

  • 1.25 m / 6:55 min/mi
  • 1.18 m / 7:19 min/mi
  • 1.21 m / 7:09 min/mi
  • 1.12 m / 7:44 min/mi

It is not a coincidence that the faster my average pace is, the longer my stride length is. Or, if I flip it, the longer my stride length gets, the faster average pace can be.

That is a huge revelation for me. It also aligns with what this article and this blog were talking about. I covered this in this post.

So, it is stride length that makes a difference. Now that I can actually see it in my results, it just makes sense. And that is why I say that, now, it is all about stride length.

Today’s run produced a very useful piece of information in terms of how to increase speed. Let’s hope that I can actually increase my stride length in the next 6 weeks.

Do you agree with my view? How’s your stride length? Is it somewhere you’re happy with?

Thanks for reading.


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About H Peter Ji Photography

I am a photographer. My photos have been sold on EyeEm, Adobe Stock and ShutterStock and also featured on ViewBug and G+ Landscape Photography Community, and via Death Valley National Park Instagram and Facebook. My work is the natural byproduct of my love for outdoors - backpacking, hiking and camping in nature.

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