Why you need to improve your stride and how to do it

It is a simple action that we carry out naturally and repeat thousands of times. However, your stride is not just a simple reflex: it is a technique that can be improved and can help you make progress with a view to the Paris 2024 Marathon for All.

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 The stride, which is the moment between a runner’s two steps, is an essential technical element full of implications and data that must be mastered. This includes its rhythm (the frequency of your strides) and amplitude (the distance between two steps). A stride that is too big, too small or poorly adapted to your body shape requires considerable physical effort and puts an inappropriate strain on your various muscle chains. All runners should try to best adapt the length of their stride to their size, weight and physical abilities. With several tens of thousands of strides during the longest races, such optimisation appears to be an essential key to running well.


The first piece of advice to heed is to aim, inasmuch as is possible, for a smooth stride and steady pace. Unlike sprinters, who seek explosive steps driving from the sole and front of the foot, long-distance runners favour rolling the foot off the ground after first placing the heel on the ground. Incidentally, the quality of running shoes and their cushioning are crucial to durability and injury prevention. When the race pace increases, the length of the stride naturally increases. At 12 km/h, the stride is approximately 1.20 m; at 15 km/h, it is approximately 1.50 m for an average sized runner. This increase in stride speed and stride length is generally accompanied by an increase in is frequency.
Runners’ strides also change depending on relief. On an upward incline, several of which will be included on the route of the Paris 2024 Marathon for All, it is necessary to shorten the stride and to lean slightly forwards to prevent the force of gravity pulling us backwards. During a descent, the stride can be lengthened slightly if the slope is gentle. In steep slopes, it is better for runners to shorten and control their strides to maintain a balanced running stance and better absorb the succession of small shocks caused by the pressure of your body weight on each foot

The perspective of Mekdes Woldu, French half-marathon women’s record holder:
“I have worked on several stride techniques. You always have to find the best one, the one best suited to your running style. I learned that when I was little, in Eritrea, the country where I grew up. The coach made us run with distance between us so that when we increased the pace we could lengthen our stride a lot. However, for long sessions, we all had to run in a group, to get used to using small economical strides”.


Your stride can be improved by regular training, which uses the foot’s thrust capacity. This what is known as drills and footwork, with in particular the famous heel-to-buttock kicks, knee raises and leg extensions, but also a host of different exercises based on leaps, jumps, leaping strides and all kinds of thrusts. This is a part of training that should not be neglected, whatever your level, and which can be carried out as part of split training sessions, after the warm-up jog and before getting to grips the crux of the training session. Another natural form of muscle strengthening is running on slopes, which you will find in the training plans devised by the FFA coaches. Carrying out repeated uphill runs of varying length and difficulty will improve the efficiency of your stride.

The perspective of Hassan Chahdi, 7th in the marathon at the world championships in 2023:
“I have been working on my stride from a young age. I find it efficient, economical, rhythmic and frequent. In fact, I focus more on its performance than on its beauty. Everyone has a different style, but there is shared base: having one foot in contact with the ground, the pelvis in the right position and the body’s core well balanced as a result, as well as coordinated movements. I have learned to adapt it to the effort, the gradient and any pain that I feel”.

Article written in association with the French Athletics Federation