Running isn't limited to a particular body type or physiology. If you're able to run, you can become a runner. But as you increase your speed, distance or frequency, you may also improve by altering your stride. Essentially, you want to use your energy to propel yourself forward fluidly and minimize the energy wasted on unnecessary or inefficient movements. For example, vertical oscillation -- when you project yourself upwards -- increases the impact when you hit the ground. The impact from running is three times your body weight [source: Science Daily]. So, reducing vertical oscillation eases joint stress and redirects energy for forward movement. To do this, concentrate on landing more softly and see how quietly you can run. If you're thudding away down the street, chances are you're exerting too much downward energy.
Body mechanics don't develop overnight, and changing them can take time. But one way to improve your stride is by increasing your turnover rate. To determine your turnover rate, simply count your steps during one minute of running. Once you know that number, you can begin to improve it. Some runners help boost their turnover rate by carrying a handheld metronome and timing their steps to the beeps until a steady rhythm becomes natural. Another method is to try increasing your turnover in short intervals, lengthening each session until you're comfortably covering more ground without extending your stride.
Experienced runners know that the less contact their feet have with the ground, the better. According to Runner's World, elite distance runners average about 180 steps per minute while most casual runners will be a little below that figure [source: Eyestone]. Higher turnover rate increases speed and reduces the impact and level of contact with the ground, but without dramatically increasing effort.