Running: 3 Factors that Boost Performance and Efficiency

by Cherie Gruenfeld August 18, 2016 3 min read

Running: 3 Factors that Boost Performance and Efficiency

Running is pretty straightforward. You put one foot in front of the other and keep moving, building speed as you go. However, it is evident that running comes easier to some than to others. This is due to a variety of reasons, including age, conditioning, body composition, and—one of the most important factors, all things being equal—technique!

Regardless of whether you’re a natural born runner, there are three key factors that affect your efficiency and performance in running:

  • Turnover rate (how often your feet hit the ground);
  • Stride length (the distance covered between each step); and
  • Ground contact time (time each foot spends in contact with the ground).

1. Turnover Rate

Generally, 90 steps per minute for each foot, or 180 steps if counting both feet, is reviewed as the optimal turnover rate for efficient running. It can take some work and practice to work up to this optimal rate. To improve your technique, there are a few drills that could help.

One that is popular, especially with younger runners, is to think of running on hot coals. This will get your body in the habit of lifting each foot promptly after it hits the ground. If practiced routinely, you will find your turnover rate will naturally improve over time.

Though a bit more thought-intensive, some runners find it helpful to count their steps. Once you hit your stride, take note of the time. After counting 90 steps, glance at the time again to see how your steps per minute stack up. Slowly, start to challenge yourself to beat your last time. Eventually your body will become accustomed to the quicker pace and your average turnover rate will improve.

2. Stride Length

For runners, it is best to strive for the longest stride length possible without overstriding, or stepping down when your foot is too far ahead of your body. Overstriding actually makes running more difficult and puts undue stress on the hips.

To avoid overstriding, try to align your hip directly over your foot as it strikes the ground. This can be difficult to monitor without a running coach, but with a mindful approach, you will prevent any undue stress on your body.

One way a runner can monitor stride length is actually tied to turnover rate. Generally, if you are a seasoned runner, running on neutral terrain, a key signal that you’re  overstriding is that you are unable to maintain the optimal turnover rate of 90 steps per minute. Alternatively, if you are understriding, you’ll be doing more than the prescribed 90 steps per minute. This exercise is very helpful in gauging how to properly align your feet and hips.

3. Ground Contact Time

Ground contact time is another important component of your running technique. The goal for efficient running is to maintain a consistently high turnover rate while maximizing your stride length and minimizing your time on the ground.

Minimizing your ground contact time limits the amount of friction caused between your feet and the ground, allowing you to move faster. Optimal ground contact time is about a tenth of a second. When considering the amount of force needed to propel your body forward with only a tenth of a second to take off, you can understand why runners have strong legs!

Keep in mind that, due to a variety of factors, running will always come easier to some, but everyone can improve his/her run if they are committed to it. And don’t forget—fluids are vital when running! Never run more than 30 minutes without replenishing your fluids.

To boost hydration after your run, try incorporating Kaqun Water™ into your routine. Kaqun water is fortified with liquid oxygen. The oxygen in Kaqun water penetrates the mucous membranes of the stomach and gastrointestinal tract, and then penetrates the tissues. This process occurs quickly, reducing mental and physical fatigue within a short period of time.*