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The Stride Length Can Change Everything

KayleeKaylee Gittleson ran hurdles for Ann Arbor Pioneer High School. The team won three out of four Division I State Championships during her four years. Kaylee was told by her dad to write about training from her perspective on the Rogers Blog.


My Dad was a Strength Coach for 30 years. We literally live in a gym with furniture. I asked my father, “Why did I get tired so quickly when I tried to match my brother’s stride?”

When I run with my brother he tries to bury me.  Understand, I said he “tries”, so it is not quite like he thinks. He also spends a lot of time thinking about how he is going to do it. And casually asks, “Would you like to go for a little run?” I am competitive and he knows it.

water towerAbout a mile and one half from our home is a water tower with a mile long ‘parcours’ laced through the park surrounding it. So we are talking 1.5 miles to the tower + 1 mile with exercise stations + 1.5 miles home , plus I don’t know where he’s taking me. All I know is that if he can do it, so can I.

As we ran I decided to try and match his stride length. When I did it just made me tired so I quickly abandoned that strategy. I decided I’d better just run the way I always do and then close in for the kill.

When I got home I asked my father why I got so tired when I took big strides or even short ones?

“Changing your stride length even a slight bit increases oxygen consumption” ….he said.


Dad showed me some literature that said 8 out of 10 runners already had located their optimal stride length. The optimal stride length meant the minimum oxygen uptake.

If you Change the stride length, you change the action of virtually every muscle in the body”…he said


When you make a mechanical change, a tiny insignificant, innocent-looking change, it is really powerful in terms of the consequences on the body, and when you do it you better also look at the physiological consequences.

My father discussed with me why new mechanical techniques on the football field required practice and preparation because they affected the players fitness. He emphasized how important it is that new skills be learned and perfected before the athlete is thrust into competition.

As I read the literature, it ulitimately said the performance in any sport boils down to adapting to your own anatomy, to your own physiology, and to the peculiarities of your own body. The body knows.

“The ‘body knows’ Kaylee because it is so lazy… make no mistake about it”……he said


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