Going faster - longer stride or faster steps? - Bridge to 10K

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Going faster - longer stride or faster steps?

JoolieB1 profile image

I am not a speedy runner and currently my fastest 5k is 34 minutes which is ok for a 53 year old who has only been running for a year. Today, I ran 6k and decided to push a little faster on the fifth Km. What's the best way to build a little speed - short and faster steps or maybe lengthen my stride? I want to go faster but definitely don't want to risk an injury!

29 Replies
Tomas profile image

Faster step. Every day of the week.

When you speed up, you probably increase your stride length as well as your cadence without thinking about it. But if you want yo train it, go for the cadence. It will make you faster, it will make you run uphill easier, it will give you the ability to "change gears" without working harder. Do it. You won't regret :)

Millsie-J profile image
Millsie-J in reply to Tomas

I'm no expert but I agree with Tomas. I have been reading where 'over striding' is seen as the cause of many injuries, so we need to be careful if we begin to lengthen our stride. However there are techniques where you 'stride' out, say 10 longer strides every so often during your run. But you do need to build this slowly to avoid injury.

Bazza1234 profile image

The reason that your 5K PB is "only" 34 minutes is NOT because you can't run fast enough!!! The reason is because you do not have the stamina to run 5K in a shorter time - big difference. 34 minutes for a 5K is 6 minutes 48 second per Klm average. I am absolutely certain that you can run at a pace much faster than 6:48 -- but you lack the stamina to do so over 5 klms!!! You probably can already run (say) at 6 mins per K - but the question is -- for how far???? I believe that to improve 5K times we need lots of tempo paced running - at a pace faster than our 5K average. 1klm and/or 1 mile repeats with a walk break in between - building up to 2klm/2 mile repeats at that pace. Eventually the aim is to run the full 5k at that pace. Yes - watch out for overstriding with too low cadence - but most of us will increase both stride length and cadence as we increase pace.

You could try using the Speed and the Stamina podcasts in the Bridge to 10k series (with the lovely Laura).

IannodaTruffe profile image

Be very careful about increasing stride length. It can cause knee problems as well as other niggles.

Your run is a decent time :-)

However to get mine sub 30 mins I started doing a session a week of intervals ( short spurts of spead followed by recovery slower bursts ) and also getting my core stability stronger. My 5 k is about 27/28 mins was about the same as yours .

I can vouch for the 5k plus speed and stamina podcasts. Try both - and when you've comfortable with them try running 5k using the speed podcast. I was also running 5k in around 34 mins and can now do it in around 32 mins.

I agree about avoiding increasing the stride length, especially at ... ah hem ... our age. Every time I've ever tried to get faster that way something hurts afterwards, and I have to take time out for recovery. I'm about the same pace as you, and after two and a half years have decided that that is good enough for me. I'm not running any races, I'm doing it to keep fit, maintain my weight and boost my mental health. Every now and then I surprise myself with a quicker pace, but there seems to be no rhyme or reason to it!

But that's just me - we're all different, and if you want to get faster, go for it, and let me know what works!

JoolieB1 profile image
JoolieB1Graduate10 in reply to useitorloseit

I am with you all the way, a sub 30 5k is not one of my goals and I do not want to either stop enjoying my runs or have to stop because of injury. Just from time to time, in the course of a run when I feel good, could push it a bit for a very short time. I am more interested in distance and running in interesting places (particularly trail running) but I a lone runner right now, didn't like running clubs at all. If I found a like minded running friend, would be more than happy to go out but no one in my circle of friends is remotely interested in running LOL

Madge50 profile image

Eerrrm excuse me, 34 minutes for running 5k is excellent, any day of the week, no matter how old or how long it takes you to get there! That's around my PB and I've been trying to do this lark for nearly four years!

As for the increased speed, agree with all that's been said, try shorter quicker steps, your stride will naturally get longer the more you relax and build strength - I've found that gradually increasing my distance - I.e aiming for a 10k run (slowly) has over time improved my 5k time.

To be honest speed doesn't bother me, I'm very proud of being the same age as you and have the strength and stamina to be able to run for 2 hours, .....

Mx 😄

JoolieB1 profile image
JoolieB1Graduate10 in reply to Madge50

Very good, I do not aim to run faster for a whole run, just when the moment takes me for a few strides, it feels really good. Quite happy with my overall time and my distance is growing, injury free, want to keep it that way

Madge50 profile image
Madge50Graduate10 in reply to JoolieB1

I do that when I get a favourite tune with a faster beat, (when I'm listening to tunes or as the mood takes me) I try to keep it up for the whole time of the song.......and then slow down again.....😄 - mind you I've got no idea about the beats per minute, I just go with the flow....always smaller quicker steps though.

Good luck with it.


davelinks profile image

As already said, be careful with overstriding as can cause problems in the legs & hips, I think you've already had problem with calves.

A running friend of mine runs at shorter steps/stride than me and completes 5k in about 25 mins, she's nearly 60! Not bad is it! She's much faster than me, am I bothered?! No! but I can beat her sprinting over 100m, which probably shows she's a better distance runner...😊

Think I saw something about overstriding here, just yesterday, this guy is very good, loads of info on fb and on YouTube..Take care with the legs..😊


Curlygurly2 profile image
Curlygurly2Graduate10 in reply to davelinks

Are you doing the 30 day Challenge Dave? I am, I was knocking big chunks off my pace but then I got another cold, and made a blood donation...I expect it'll come back when the cold finally shoves off! Yes, he's really very very good.

davelinks profile image
davelinksGraduate10 in reply to Curlygurly2

No curly, my runnings in fits & starts at the moment, have not been doing the mileage since Xmas, as not felt up to it much with sinus problems & cold virus, managed to get out today for a slow 5k, and am hoping to do Parkrun on Sat with nephew.. maybe I'll do something later as I pickup more..😊

Curlygurly2 profile image
Curlygurly2Graduate10 in reply to davelinks

A little break won't hold you back too much. Colds etc are such a pain aren't they? You'll get out there again, you'll know when you're up to it. xxx

agedsnailspace profile image
agedsnailspaceGraduate10 in reply to davelinks

I've been through his 30 day program a couple of times now - and will be repeating it again as part of my marathon training. He is good and there are a lot of useful stretches and exercises. Really highlighted my almost total lack of balance!

Dunder2004 profile image

Overstriding is one of the fastest ways to the IC. Increasing cadence means more work for the heart/lungs which improves stamina.

misswobble profile image

No long strides! No, no, no 😃 Keep your running under your hips. Small steps, small steps, small steps. Repeat after me 😊

Fair enough that Mo and the splendid Dibaba can stride out like gazelles but us mere mortals are a different kettle of fish.

You will speed up but it takes time. As your fitness improves then so will your speed. i speeded up using the C25k+ podcasts and then running quick 3k's. you can run a straight 3k or do 3 x 1 k quick as you can with jog in between. At any time you can try and speed up on a run, say between lamp posts etc. give it a whirl. Tree, bush, bin, gate post etc as a marker

Plenty of good advice above on increasing your speed.. I just wanted to say well done you😀 To my mind that is a perfectly respectable speed

davelinks profile image

Excellent time Joolie, considering you've only been running a year, Your running a couple of mins better than me!😊

JoolieB1 profile image
JoolieB1Graduate10 in reply to davelinks

Don't forget, that is a good run, sometimes I run slower, most important thing is to enjoy running

I'm nearly 50, graduated 3 years ago and my 5k PB is still 39.59 - so respect ! (I do do Speed and Stamina quite regularly and enjoy them.)

JoolieB1 profile image
JoolieB1Graduate10 in reply to ajwyld

Regular running over 30 minutes will do us the world of good and we are doing that! I enjoy running nowadays and so speedy running would just spoil it, just have moments on a run when I could go a little bit faster

GoogleMe profile image

I am definitely a slow runner (my PB for 5k is 43 minutes) but to date I have not sustained an injury. I am told I have a very short stride (possibly people are politely telling me I shuffle!)

I think I'll take no injuries over speed. The injury couch definitely ain't fast.

JoolieB1 profile image
JoolieB1Graduate10 in reply to GoogleMe

Totally agree, 43 minutes is a great pace, well done, makes it safe and enjoyable too!

Oldfloss profile image

I am just glad if I can run at any speed :)

Seriously.. I like to have a little burst..but have never really thought how I do it... hmmm :)

Hidden profile image

Hi Joolie I am in exactly the same as you,feel as though I've plateaued and need to speed up. I may try and run faster after 10 mins then go steadier to start with.

My advice is to combine the inputs from Bazza1234 and Mollydex - combine sessions with longer distances and sessions with intervals and strength training. My 5k was 39 min in June and is now 30 min.

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