November 2016

Step rate, length differentiate trained from untrained long distance runners

In the moment: Running

By Jordana Bieze Foster

Trained long distance runners have a higher step rate and a shorter step length during running than untrained participants—characteristics that may represent adaptations to reduce injury and improve running economy, according to research from Spain.

Investigators from the University of the Basque Country in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain, analyzed 10 amateur runners with long-distance training experience and 10 healthy untrained participants during two treadmill runs: a submaximal run (between 9 and 15 km/h) and a graded exercise running test (from 6 km/h to exhaustion). All study participants were habitual rearfoot strikers.

The trained runners had a significantly higher step rate and shorter step length than the untrained runners at the same running speeds and at the same physiological intensities. In addition, running economy was about 7% more efficient in the trained group than in the untrained group. However, contact and flight times during running did not differ significantly between the groups.

The findings were epublished in October by the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.


Gomez-Molina J, Ogueta-Alday A, Stickley C, et al. Differences in spatio-temporal parameters between trained runners and untrained participants. J Strength Cond Res 2016 Oct 6. [Epub ahead of print]

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