Nowadays many smart watches record and measure many parameters other than heart-rate such as cadence, vertical ratio, vertical oscillation and many more. Runners can gain much better insight into their techniques and training progress by using these measurements.

A runner's running dynamics describe their form, efficiency, and performance based on a variety of metrics. These metrics can be measured using specialized sensors or devices, such as Garmin watches, and can help runners gain a better understanding of their running mechanics. Running dynamics variables include cadence, vertical oscillation, ground contact time, stride length, and more. A runner can improve their performance by monitoring and analyzing these variables, adjusting their training plans, and identifying areas for improvement. Understanding running dynamics variables can provide valuable insight into a runner's training and help them become more efficient and effective. So let’s dive into some of the metrics.  


A cadence is a measurement of the number of steps per minute. Cadences typically range from 170-180 per minute. Cadence that's consistently lower than this range might mean you're overstriding, which can lead to inefficiencies and injuries. Cadence can also cause over striding if it drops. Overstriding can also lower a runner's running efficiency because it takes more energy to take longer steps. This can lead to increased fatigue, reduced speed, and lower endurance. It can also cause the runner's foot to hit the ground with a braking force, which slows them down and waste energy. This can make it more difficult for the runner to maintain their speed and achieve their running goals.

Stance time

Stance time, also known as ground contact time (GCT), is a running dynamics variable that measures how long the runner's foot remains on the ground during each stride. A runner's form and efficiency can be evaluated using this measurement, which is typically measured in milliseconds.

A shorter stance time is generally associated with better running efficiency and performance since it indicates that the foot spends less time on the ground, which means the runner expends less energy during each stride. By doing so, you can increase your cadence, reduce your time on the ground, and improve your ability to run faster and longer.

On the other hand, a longer stance time may indicate that the runner is spending too much time on the ground, which may result in reduced running efficiency, increased fatigue, and a higher risk of injury. In addition, a longer stance time may also be associated with over striding, which occurs when the foot lands ahead of the runner's center of mass.

Vertical ratio

Vertical ratio is a running dynamics variable that measures the amount of vertical oscillation (the up and down movement of the body) in relation to the stride length of a runner. Usually measured as a percentage, it can provide insight into the form and efficiency of a runner.

Running with a lower vertical ratio is generally associated with improved efficiency and performance because it indicates that the runner is wasting less energy on vertical movement and is instead using it to propel themselves forward. Additionally, a lower vertical ratio can reduce the risk of injury by reducing the impact forces on the body.

In contrast, a high vertical ratio may indicate that the runner is putting more energy into vertical movement, which may reduce their running efficiency and increase their risk of injury.

Stance time balance

Stance time balance is a variable of running dynamics that measures the symmetry between a runner's left and right legs in terms of the time the runner spends on the ground during each stride. Usually expressed as a percentage, it provides information regarding a runner's running form and technique.

Runners with a 50% stance time balance spend equal amounts of time on the ground with both their left and right legs. When the stance time balance deviates from 50%, there is asymmetry in the amount of time that the two legs spend on the ground. The cause of this can be various factors, such as differences in leg strength, foot strike pattern, or running technique.

It is possible for an asymmetrical stance time balance to result in an uneven distribution of load on the legs, increasing the risk of injury and decreasing the efficiency of running. Runners can identify areas of asymmetry in their stance time balance and work on improving their form and technique in order to maximize their running efficiency and reduce their risk of injury.

Step length

The step length is a running dynamics variable that measures the distance between a runner's steps, typically measured in meters or feet. Longer strides are generally associated with better running efficiency and performance since the runner covers more ground with each step.

Increasing step length can be challenging since it is affected by several factors, including running form, leg strength, and flexibility. However, the following tips may assist in increasing step length in running:

  1. Improve Running Form: Focusing on proper running form can improve step length by promoting efficient movement and reducing wasted energy. Proper running form includes keeping the body tall, leaning slightly forward from the ankles, and landing midfoot or forefoot.
  2. Increasing leg strength can help runners improve their step length by enabling them to generate more power with each step. Leg strength can be developed through exercises such as squats, lunges, and calf raises.
  3. Increasing flexibility can enhance step length by increasing hip, knee, and ankle range of motion. Flexibility can be improved by performing stretching exercises such as lunges, hamstring stretches, and hip openers.
  4. Gradual Increase: It is important to gradually increase step length over time to avoid injury.

In conclusion, running dynamics parameters provide valuable insight into a runner's form, technique, and efficiency. Tracking and analyzing these parameters can help runners improve their training, reduce their risk of injury, and achieve better results.

Cadence, vertical oscillation, ground contact time, step length, and stance time balance are some of the most important running dynamics parameters. These parameters can provide insights into a runner's stride efficiency, symmetry, and overall form.

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Barak Gahtan

PhD student in computer science, Technion from Haifa

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Yoga / Pilates Strength Training marathon 10k

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