Many runners, regardless of their experience, often aim to maintain a smooth, efficient stride to carry them along their runs. But, looking to change and perfect your stride may not be necessary, according to new research.

In fact, the stride length that is most natural to you may be the right one for you, according to USA Track and Field consultant Iain Hunter and U.S. Olympian Jared Ward, who both co-authored the report.

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“Don’t worry about changing your stride length,” Hunter, professor of exercise science at Brigham Young University, said in a statement. “You should just leave it alone or you’re going to use more energy in the end.”

To understand how stride and energy expenditure varies among individuals, Hunter and Ward studied 19 experienced runners who ran an average of at least 20 miles a week, and 14 inexperienced runners who had never run more than 5 miles in a single week. Each ran on the treadmill for 20 minutes and wore oxygen measures in order for the researchers to measure how much energy they used.

The participants were instructed to try out five different stride lengths, including their natural stride as well as strides that were plus and minus 8 and 16 percent of their normal stride. While it may sound tricky to maintain those exact strides, the participants had the help of technology that beeped when their foot should’ve hit the treadmill.

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The findings, published in the International Journal of Exercise Science, revealed that both the experienced and inexperienced runners used less energy when they stuck to their normal stride length.

"Just let it happen; it doesn't need to be coached," Hunter said. "Your body is your best coach for stride length."

If efficiency while you run is your main concern, it’s best to stick with your usual stride, Ward suggests.

"Many people are advocating for various 'optimal' running forms, but this study shows even novice runners shouldn't try to run any different than their body naturally does," he said. "Enjoy running and worry less about what things look like."

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