stride freq, stride length, # of steps

Will someone please describe the interaction of stride length, stride frequency and number of steps within a particular distance. Specifically the interaction of stride length and number of steps. Is it likely that a faster athlete will take the same number of steps in a 40yd or 100m sprint when a distinguishing factor is a longer stride length for the faster athlete?

Could you please give a brief description of how stride length, stride frequency and number of steps interact between sprinters of differing performance? Is there any literature that examines these 3 variables?

Thank you in advance.

Stride length and number of steps is actually the same thing, just different expression.

Manfred Letzelter did extensive researches in 1972 and 1976 olympics for 100m regarding number of steps and step frequency at 200m. I suggest you have a look in the old Leistungssports i can’t remember the issue number and page for the article :stuck_out_tongue:

What is interesting is to study the progression of stride length and frequency through the 100m, as well as contact time/flight time ratio.

Your question would require a 200 page book, but the basics is that frequency increases and peaks at around 30m then decrease, while stride length increase up to 60m and then is maintained through 90m and increases again in the last 10m as the sprinters lean forward to the tape.
The speed curve reaches his peak between step frequency and stride length’s peaks. Step contact time mirros the speed curve (speed curve increase and decrease, while step contact time decrease and increase).

elite sprinters walter dix and justin gatlin are two similar sprinters(generally speaking-both sub 10 sub 20) and run with a similar body position. Believe the name was something like hypo-kyphotic thoracic head position.

Yet they are on the opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of stride length and frequency, i’m guessing due to their respective body types as well as their different limb lengths/levers.

You have gatlin (rangy beast type) in his 9.77 100 hitting 40m at 20 strides, 60m at 28 strides, and 100m at roughly 42 strides. Then you have dix (turn-over beast type) in his 9.93 100 hitting 40m at around 24-25 strides, 60m at around 32.5-33 strides, and 100m at around 49.5-50 strides.

As well, you then have gatlin in his 20 flat 200 runs hitting 100m consistently at around 43-44 strides and the 200 finish at 81-82 strides. With dix, i haven’t analyzed any of his 200 races but i’m guessing he’ll be covering the full 200 metres in around 96-98 strides.

The thing that amazes me most is that gatlin 6’1" is 5 inches shorter than usain bolt 6’6"(man-child beast prodigy-19.93 at 17 years 19.75 at 20 years), yet he still runs 200 metres in the same number of strides as bolt. This tells me that his leg and core strength is off-the charts to be able to run with that stride-length, of a 6’6" man, for a full 200 metres. Some GB commentators asked J.Gat, after a 20.05 run where he beat T.Gay, what his secret was. All he said was “Strong Legs” I’m guessing it’s a combination of that hypo-kyphotic thoracic body position(basically a lean i guess) and the tremendous core-leg strength from doing squats and 200 type-training.

There are some great perspectives being offered.

Thanks for the reading.

wouldnt plyometrics increase stride length too? more elastic force should equal longer stride length so gatlin was probably very springy too. also gatlin used to be a hurdler could this have any impact?

Yes but WHICH plyometric exercise(s)?

wouldnt all of them have some benefit? just whatever plyows sprinters usually do.

Regarding Gatlin, I’m aware of the repetitive bounding and “stick” work he did with Anderson. I always thought that he overstrided during acceleration. Of course, genetic predisposition plays into it as well.

So then for two athletes (like gatlin and dix), seperated by approx. .2s, to have the same number of steps there would need to be a large diff. in stride rate between the two to account for the superior time?

Basically, it is difficult to make generalities regarding the correlation of # of steps and performance? Or is it?

There is too much variability in the interaction of rate/length between individuals?

I think the picture is becoming more clear. Thanks for the responses.

There’s no correlation btw number of step and 100m performance.

the difference wouldn’t be that large and would be barely perceptible by just eyeballing the races. You’d have to analyze the races in slow-mo or using your mouse and pausing to count the strides frequency/rate.

gatlin at his more normal time range for 2006(9.85s-9.95s area) was at a more normal stride rate(for himself) of 44 strides at 100m. These were 21 strides at 40m, 29 strides at 60m, and 44 strides at 100m. He ran with this slightly higher frequency/stride rate times of, 9.95 osaka; 9.93 indy; 9.87 new york; 9.88 eugene.

Compare this stride pattern with 9.77 doha race as well as the 9.86 doha heat stride pattern: 40m at 20 strides, 60m at 28 strides, and 100m at 42 strides. I think this basically says that at his peak of his season 9.77, gatlin was able to run slower and faster at the same time in a way. In other words, he was fresh enough to run with and maintain a stride length that allowed him to pull his fastest times with a slightly lower frequency.

I’ve wondered about overstriding as well and what factors tells us who overstrides and who doesn’t? is it all about where both knees are in relation to eachother as the foot strikes the ground or is it more about the apparent length of the contact patch on the ground in front of the body or is it about both of the above factors combined?

I’ve often looked at it as more the latter of the two. I tend to get better results from my athletes (non-elite) the closer to BDC the foot touches down during maximal speed. Certainly a more responsive and relaxed vertical displacement as well. Perhaps, with elites, it becomes more a function of leg stiffness and force generated on touchdown.

The association between
the developnient of strength
and speed
by Alessandro Donati

NSA year 1996 vol 11 issue 2

download at

The Italians seem to have an index related to bounds/strides and actual sprint times for 100m

Except that you can take the same # of steps and run a completely different race. If you take much faster, but shorter steps in the beginning and longer towards the end, the total # may be the same or approximately the same and you could have completely different outcomes for the times.

There isn’t so much differences in stride pattern for elite sprinters, this is a recap for some of Gatlin’s best races? New York is anomaly, and Doha’s heats too because he relaxed before the end which tends to open the strides.

9.77 (w+1.7) - 41.6 - Doha 2006
9.84 (w+3.4) - 42.9 - Eugene 2005
9.85 (w+0.6) - 42.1 - Athens OG 2004
9.86 (w+1.1) - 41.2 - Doha 2006 (heats)
9.87 (w-0.1) - 44.1 - New York 2006
9.88 (w+0.4) - 42.0 - Helsinki WC 2005
9.88 (w+1.0) - 43.0 - Eugene 2006
9.89 (w+1.0) - 42.0 - London 2005
9.92 (w+0.0) - 42.0 - Sacramento NC 2004
9.93 (w-1.2) - 43.0 - Indianapolis NC 2006
9.95 (w-0.1) - 42.8 - Osaka 2006

Interesting. So, basically when at his peak or near-peak (2004, 2005, 2006), performance wise, his stride is at it’s longest?

what kind of cue might one use regarding the arms, when they have an athlete who understriding near the end of their respective training distances. Maybe tell them to use less arm take-back in the area where they begin understriding.

By understriding, I mean, the recovery knee is in-line with the opposite knee before that opposite knee strikes the ground. And as the stance leg is striking the ground, the recovery knee is already slightly ahead.

Or perhaps leave different arm cues alone and command them to stop the run once they begin to understride.

Maybe, we should look inside and have details for different portion of the race to see what happens, but i haven’t done extensive researches for Galtin. Opposite patterns can be found in other elite sprinters.

within 9.77-100run:
20 strides to 40m (as opposed to most his other races 21 strides to 40m);
brought the head and upperbody up out of drive-phase at 16th stride(roughly 30m or shortly thereafter);
once up and into his running at 30m, head and body-position is still low (lower relative to other sprinters), as if a sustained drive-phase position or something along those lines;
stride becomes longer from 60-80 and 80-100
20m-40m : 8 strides
40m-60m : 8 strides
60m-80m : 7.5 strides
80m-100m : 6.5 strides