The next time you're running, count how many steps you take in 10 seconds and multiply that by six to determine your steps per minute. This is your stride frequency, and although most runners have one between 150 and 156, the magic number is 180, says Robert Forster, a physical therapist, performance specialist and founder of Phase IV and Forster Physical Therapy. "This frequency allows your foot to strike the ground below your center of gravity, improving efficiency and biomechanics and helping you avoid injury,” he says. Faster footwork also maximizes calorie burn, even if your pace doesn't increase, since your heart pumps faster and you’ll have to work harder to maintain your stride.
Try upping your strides one minute at a time by making your feet move faster until you get used to it, Forster says. It may also help to use a metronome app (like this cadence app) that beeps 180 times per minute or to listen to a song that’s 180 beats per minute and match your footfalls to the rhythm.