Mathmatically, sprint speed can be represented by stride length multiplied by stride frequency. So I did a little experiment to see if focusing on stride length can have an immediate positive effect on sprint speed. Well, it turns out it can have an immediate effect (5% faster speed in my case), so keep reading to see more details.
Below is me at the half way mark, about 1 stride ahead of my slower self.
Did I Lengthen my Strides?
My natural sprinting technique had me taking 66 strides over 110 meters (let’s say 60 for 100m). When I focused on lengthening my stride, I took 60 strides over 110m (let’s say 54 for 100m). So that’s roughly a 10% reduction in number of strides, and roughly a 10% increase in stride length. While 54 is far from Usain Bolt’s 41 strides per 100m (32% more!), it’s still less than my natural technique.
Did My Stride Frequency Decrease?
Since my time fell by 5% while my stride length increased by 10%, clearly the frequency did decrease, but not by a lot. So overall, focusing on stride length was positive for me.
With some training focusing on stride length, I could probably improve more than the 10% I improved due to psychological focus alone.
Yes! There are clear issues in my technique, which can also be seen as an opportunity. With the videos in hand, the most obvious issues to me are the backward lean (meaning I’m also not on my toes), a slight bouncing motion of the head, and a slight inward swing of the arms. If you see more issues, comment below. This does highlight the benefit of video analysis for technique improvement though.
Give it a shot, mentally focus on long strides, and see if it improves you times like it did mine. However, this technique is most likely to work for beginners who haven’t yet trained their stride length.