Increasing stride length1

At the beginning of a sprint, your first strides are always shorter. There is no way to plan how long they are. But the better shape you are in, the longer your stride will be. Generally, you develop a longer stride by becoming more flexible through stretching. Strength and flexibility always go together. But you have to know that your stride length can't keep getting longer. Eventually you reach your maximum stride length. But you can only reach that point by getting yourself in better shape, becoming stronger and more flexible. Your own strides should be between 6'6" and 6'8" long in general. My own strides are between 7' and 7'2". They used to be 7'8". But you should try to have a stride of 6'6" to 6'8".

What you should do is measure your stride length 20 to 40 yards into your sprint because in the first 20 yards you are working too hard just to get going and at the end you are too tired. Your ultimate stride should be between 6' and 6'6". Of course, if you are stiff, you will never be able to do it, and it will be like hopping. If you aren't flexible, you can't reach this kind of stride. But right now you shouldn't focus on your stride, because that will only discourage you. In my last race my stride at the end was only 5'5" or 5'6" because I was tired. In the middle of the race my stride was only 6'6". in fact, this whole year I haven't reached a seven-foot stride.

The most important thing to think about is pushing off the ground with the back foot. You have to get tremendous strength off the back foot. The stride is only secondary. If you think too much about your stride, it will upset your sprinting. Just think about pushing off your back foot, and concentrate on fast turnover during the race. You definitely have the sprinting speed you need, but you need to work on getting more flexible and strong — mostly on getting more flexible. On the last videotape they took of me, I was showing you how to work on that flexibility and get your knees up. In my last race my stride was a lot smaller because my knees were dropping. You have to keep your knees up to get good stride length. In my case, I don't concentrate on stride at all — but just on getting a fast turnover of the feet. You also should concentrate on developing a powerful pushing action. That will make you fast. The more ground you cover, the faster you go. You should hit the ground strong, pull your legs up and concentrate on the pushing action of the arms.

Keep up your courage in your practice. You will do well. I just know it.

  1. SCH 14. On 9 July 1983 Payton Jordan gave over the phone the following instructions on how Sri Chinmoy could increase his stride length.