Mastering Your Stride with Ground Contact Time

the science behind ground contact time in running performance


What is Ground Contact Time?

Ground Contact Time (GCT) refers to the amount of time your foot spends on the ground during each step while running. This metric is typically measured in milliseconds (ms). GCT can provide insights into your running mechanics and overall efficiency.

Why is Ground Contact Time Important?

GCT is an important indicator of your running efficiency and biomechanics. Here’s why:

  1. Efficiency: Shorter GCT generally means that you’re running more efficiently. Efficient runners spend less time on the ground and more time propelling forward.
  2. Injury Prevention: Longer GCT can sometimes indicate overstriding or inefficient running form, which can lead to injuries over time. Monitoring GCT can help you identify and correct these inefficiencies.
  3. Performance: Elite runners tend to have shorter GCTs, which helps them run faster. By reducing your GCT, you might also improve your speed and overall performance.

Factors Affecting Ground Contact Time

Several factors can influence your GCT:

  1. Running Form: Proper running mechanics, including a midfoot or forefoot strike, can help reduce GCT.
  2. Strength and Conditioning: Strong muscles, especially in the lower body, can help you push off the ground more quickly.
  3. Footwear: The type of shoes you wear can impact your GCT. Lightweight, minimalist shoes might promote a shorter GCT, while heavier, cushioned shoes might increase it.
  4. Surface: Running on harder surfaces can sometimes result in shorter GCT compared to softer surfaces like grass or trails.

How to Measure Ground Contact Time

Modern wearable technology makes it easier than ever to measure GCT. Many advanced running watches and foot pods can provide this data. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to get started:

  1. Equip Yourself: Use a running watch or a foot pod that can measure GCT. Popular devices from brands like Garmin, Polar, and Stryd offer accurate GCT measurements.

  2. Run Normally: Run as you normally would to get baseline data. It’s essential to collect data from various runs, including different terrains and speeds, to understand your average GCT.

  3. Analyze Data: Look at your GCT data post-run to see your average GCT. Most wearables will provide this information in milliseconds. You can find this data in the accompanying app or software platform of your wearable device.

  4. Make Adjustments: If your GCT is longer than you’d like, consider making adjustments to your running form, strength training routine, or footwear. Small changes can significantly impact your overall performance.

Tips to Improve Ground Contact Time

Improving your GCT can lead to better running performance and reduced injury risk. Here are some tips to help you shorten your GCT:

  1. Improve Running Form: Focus maintaining a quick and light cadence. Avoid overstriding, as landing with your foot too far ahead of your body increases GCT. You may notice that this promotes a forefoot or midfoot strike pattern, but remember that this is the result and not the focus.

  2. Strength Training: Incorporate exercises that strengthen your calves, glutes, and hamstrings. Plyometric exercises, such as jump squats and box jumps, can enhance your explosive power, reducing the time your foot spends on the ground.

  3. Plyometrics: Add plyometric exercises like jump squats and box jumps to your routine to improve explosive power. These exercises train your muscles to generate force quickly, contributing to a shorter GCT.

  4. Wear the Right Shoes: Choose lightweight running shoes that promote a natural stride. Experiment with different types of shoes to find what works best for you. Remember, the right shoes can make a significant difference in your running efficiency.

  5. Cadence Drills: Practice running drills that focus on increasing your cadence. Aim to increase your cadence by 5-10% to increase the efficiency of your running form and shorten ground contact time.


Ground Contact Time is a valuable metric that can provide insights into your running efficiency and help you identify areas for improvement. By understanding and optimizing your GCT, you can enhance your performance and reduce the risk of injury.

We hope this breakdown helps you on your journey to mastering your stride. For more detailed discussion and expert tips, be sure to listen to our podcast episode “Mastering Your Stride: The Science of Ground Contact Time in Running Performance.”