Stride length and cadence are an important aspect of efficient running form

Ready to Run recently blogged about Eliud Kipchoge, who ran the amazing 1:59:40 at the INEOS 1:59 Challenge to become the first person ever to break two hours for the marathon.

Though few can hope to run as fast as him, we can certainly learn something from how he runs.

Experts observe that Kipchoge, running at a 4:34 per mile pace, lands on his mid-foot, widely believed to be the most efficient foot-strike, especially as it relates to the energy-storing function of the Achilles tendon. It’s a light foot-strike and helps propel him forward stride for stride.

He also seems to incorporate a number of form features popularized in Chi Running, a form technique popularized by running author Danny Dreyer, and also popularized in the “Pose” method, such as a slight forward lean, good hip rotation, and proper cadence.

In addition to mid-foot strike, cadence is a big part of Kipchoge’s (and most elite runners) success. That means about 180 strides per minute. Though very simple, not many recreational runners pay attention to it. The theory is that a faster cadence helps reduce the loading to the hip and knee joints, which over the long haul could pay off in less fatigue. Increased cadence also means a shorter time coming in contact with the ground, which in turns causes a stiffer lever action that yields a greater transfer of energy.

Stride length is also an important aspect of Kipchoge’s form. He doesn’t over-stride, but rather lands with his foot-strike directly beneath his knee. This helps prevent the “breaking” action common with over-striding and allows efficient propulsion.

The core of shorter strides and increased cadence lies in Kipchoge’s hips as they rotate to drive his legs forward. This is not forced, but rather a relaxed, built-in feature.

Maybe the best thing to learn from Kipchoge’s form is that he looks relaxed. He looks relaxed because he IS relaxed, a very important aspect of running form. As running expert and author Jeff Galloway has said, “One of the best pieces of coaching advice I ever got, was ‘relax and pick up the pace!”

Upcoming races: Saturday, November 9, at 8:30 a.m., the New Braunfels Half Marathon, 5K & 10K at the Stars and Stripes Drive-In Theater, 1178 Kroesche Lane in New Braunfels. Saturday, November 9, at 8:05 a.m., the Cedar Park 5 Miler/5K at 204 E Little Elm Trail, Cedar Park.