I Had a Terrible Overstride When I Ran — Until I Talked to These Peloton Instructors
As a runner who has suffered through plantar fasciitis and plenty of irritating knee pain, it was nice to finally find out why I was struggling. For me, this happened at physical therapy, where I got on the treadmill so the therapists could record my running form and play it back for me. "See how your right hip drops substantially with every step you take? You need to strengthen your hips, and for that overstride, we need to help you strengthen your glutes," the docs told me.
Eventually I was off on my own, now knowledgable about the importance of strength training as a runner and experimenting with outdoor runs on the Peloton Digital app. As I listened to Becs Gentry and Matt Wilpers describe proper running form in my ear at the beginning of a jog, I noticed that I still hadn't corrected all of my issues. For one, my feet definitely were not landing directly underneath the midline of my body, and my steps felt heavy — like I was desperately trying to keep up with someone in front of me but was slowly giving in to my overworked legs and giving up. These are symptoms of an overstride.
"Take your headphones out of your ear and see if you can hear your footsteps as you run. Your steps should be light and quick; you shouldn't hear them at all," Wilpers says during one of his warmups. I couldn't help but laugh as my heavy thud overpowered the background music. I checked my cadence after the run and it was really low — right around 160 spm (steps per minute). To put this into perspective, intermediate to advanced runners have a cadence of 180 spm.
I wanted more tips from the Peloton pros so I could improve my overstride and prevent further injuries, so I talked to Becs Gentry, RRCA-certified running coach, Peloton Tread instructor, and professional marathon runner, and Jess King, RRCA-certified running coach and Peloton Cycling and Tread instructor, who came back with incredible advice that would help anyone become a better runner. Jess is the newest tread instructor at Peloton, and also had to correct her overstride during training, so we have something in common!
Even if you don't find your running steps quite as laborious as I described mine to be, you'll definitely take away some helpful instruction from Gentry and King when you read our Q&A ahead. I'm putting their words into practice, repeating their mantras, and adjusting my form, and I'm already feeling so much lighter and quicker on my feet. Now after every run, I find my cadence has increased, and it's all because these Peloton instructors really know what they're talking about (and also probably because I feel a little more swag thanks to my new Saucony Endorphin Speeds). Keep reading to find out more tips about how to strengthen and shorten your stride, straight from these pros.
Pictured above: Peloton instructor Becs Gentry out on a run.
POPSUGAR: Why do runners overstride?
Becs Gentry: Overstriding comes from glute muscles that are not firing efficiently, therefore not giving us that quick pullback up and under of the leg that we want.
Jess King: An overstride happens when the foot lands out in front of the body instead of directly beneath your power source, aka the midline of the body.
PS: Can an overstride cause injury?
BG: Over time. Continued overstraining could lead to weaknesses and imbalances in the muscular-skeletal area of your glutes, so a great tip would be to work on glute strength to prevent this from happening.
PS: How do you correct your overstride?
BG: I tell runners to imagine you are running in your own bubble. If you over-extend your leg in front, you will pop that bubble. With each stride, your feet should land directly underneath you within your center of gravity. I tell runners to try to imagine they are rolling over the ground rather than falling down onto it. A good track can help you settle in a nice rhythm, too, so that's a great place to practice.
JK: Like everything in life, I rely on music. The song "Novacane" by Frank Ocean is 188 bpm and the perfect tempo for restraining those overstrides to be shorter and quicker.
PS: How do you track your cadence?
BG: Regardless of height, you should aim to have a cadence of 180 steps per minute for most runners. This is considered a strong cadence that will naturally encourage you to feel more relaxed in your running. You can try to begin counting to 180 steps (or 90 steps on each leg) in order to try to hit the average spm. If you don't have a watch or timer on hand, think about where on the floor you are landing. If you're running with a good stride, you will land midfoot, with a light bend in the knee to absorb the shock, but not too much that your heel drops to the ground. This allows you to push off the ball of the foot and toes into your next stride cycle.
Pictured above: Peloton instructor Jess King out on a run.
PS: Is there a difference in overstriding on a treadmill versus overstriding outside?
BG: I tell a runner on a tread to settle far back enough from the crossbar so that knee knocks are avoided. This will also help you determine that the speed is within your comfort zone, otherwise the human mechanics switch to relying on the tread belt to pull the leg back behind the runner rather than using muscular strength.
JK: When I was training to become a tread instructor, I had to correct my overstride. I did this by slowing down the speed on my treadmill and taking lots of tiny, fast steps. The focus was on keeping my feet right underneath my hips and almost double-timing my steps.
PS: What other workouts or exercises can help prevent an overstride?
BG: Warming up and activating your whole body before a run is imperative for efficient performance, so a Peloton Warmup class is my go-to. Overstriders should focus on activating the glutes before a run. If you have mini bands, place one around your legs just about your knees, stand in a 70 percent squat position, and perform moves here including lateral steps and forward and backward steps. Taking a Peloton Strength for Runners class a couple times a week will also encourage that muscular-skeletal relationship to grow while working on your balance.
JK: I have spent the majority of my running training focusing on drills; marching, skipping, A-runs, shorter sprint efforts, as well as strength training with specificity for running. Peloton instructor Andy Speer is my personal trainer and so much of what he does with me, he also teaches in his Peloton Strength classes. Download the Peloton Digital app and keep us in your back pocket. Our programming includes pre-run warmups, warmup runs, and strength for runners; all designed to keep you training smart and strong.
PS: How much do running shoes matter when it comes to an overstride?
BG: To be honest, a sneaker is not going to fix this issue; it is certainly something that needs to be solved through practice and patience. Your body takes time to adapt to any change, so choosing to focus time and energy into creating your most efficient running form is your first port of call, just make sure you are in a running shoe!
JK: Personally, I think sneakers are a matter of preference. I look for something lightweight, supportive, with enough width for my foot to expand, and in a fun, bright color.