The running gaits used by both bipedal and quadrupedal animals are reviewed and contrasted. At high speeds, bipeds use both ordinary running, in which the legs move opposite one another, and hopping. Quadrupeds generally use the trot or its variations at moderate speeds, and first the canter and then the gallop as speed increases. Running in both bipeds and quadrupeds generally involves at least one aerial phase per stride cycle, but certain perturbations to running including running in circles, running under enhanced gravity, running on compliant surfaces and running with increased knee flexion (Groucho running) can reduce the aerial phase, even to zero. A conceptual model of running based on the idea that an animal rebounds from the ground like a resonant mass-spring system may be used to compare the various gaits. The model makes specific predictions which show that galloping is generally faster than cantering, pronking or trotting, and requires lower peak vertical forces on the legs while also giving a smoother ride. Even so, trotting might be preferred to galloping at low and moderate speeds for the same reason that normal running is preferred to Groucho running-the more compliant gait offers a smoother ride and lower vertical ground-reaction forces on the feet, but this can only be obtained at a high cost of increased metabolic power.

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