Gazelles vs Gliders – Pro Ironman Running Form

Recently I stumbled across an excellent set of YouTube videos from Todd Kenyon of Having collected lots of great in-race footage of Pro Ironman athletes, Todd makes some great observations about the different types of running form used by these elite athletes.

Todd categorises the two distinct different styles observed as ‘Gazelles‘ and ‘Gliders‘.

Which category do you fall into?

Gazelles vs Gliders Part 1

Gazelles vs Gliders Part 2

What About Age Group IM Athletes?

I really like the concepts that Todd presents in the videos above. Clearly the Pros are generally moving somewhat faster than the majority of AGers, but there are definitely elements we can all take onboard and learn from.

Among  the many Ironman athletes I work with, some of the more naturally gifted runners tend to show Gazelle traits (to use Todd’s terminology), while the majority of AGers seem to be more Glider-like in their running style. The most common problem I tend to see could be referred to as a Broken Glider.

The ‘Broken Glider’

Watching Todd’s videos above and the discussion therein, you’ll notice that one major trait of the Glider is to run with a very high rate of cadence (stride frequency). Some of the pro athletes in the video are running well into the mid 90s SPM and above at their IM marathon pace. This high rate of cadence enables them to maintain the desired race pace while keeping the flight-time to a minimum and almost all the propulsive effort driving them forwards.

In contrast to this, I regularly meet AG Ironman Athletes who exhibit the low foot carry of a Glider, and open hips at toe-off (as per the video), yet they barely make it into the mid 80s SPM with their running cadence at IM marathon pace. These athletes almost always need to work on their cadence, focusing on increasing the rate of turnover. Are you a Broken Glider?

Read Todd’s Original Discussion on Gazelles and Gliders

Last updated on March 2nd, 2021.

1 Comment

  1. I’m a broken glider. I seem to default at mid 80s during my slow training runs. However if I want to get up to the 90s I either have to run to faster than my aerobic pace will allow for or I have to take such tiny steps it drives me crazy. What to do?