Strides are one of the most effective and easiest to implement training activities that you can incorporate into any training regimen – whether you are deep in marathon training or base building for the season ahead.
As a coach, I feel they offer one of the greatest bangs for your buck in terms of training efforts.
What are strides?
Strides are simply quick running drills consisting of controlled acceleration, brief sustainment of near maximal speed followed by controlled deceleration all within a 100m span.
Many runners spend a majority or all of their training running at one speed – medium. While this builds aerobic systems it does little to improve getting faster. Running form can also suffer with prolonged periods of this type of training leading to shuffling.
Strides offer a way to break this pattern and create a foundation for faster and more efficient running.
5 ways you can immediately benefit from strides:
1. Strides offer you a great way to incorporate light speed work into your training plan without having to devote an entire day of training. By adding them to the end of an easier workout you can add some additional challenge and benefit to the same session.
2. Strides are a great way to acclimate you to the rigors of faster running. This is especially the case for newer runners unaccustomed to fast running or performing speed work. Strides provide the foundation for the body to transition to more defined speed training activities later.
3. Strides are an excellent choice to engage in a dynamic cool down following longer runs and tempo runs. During high mileage weeks your legs can begin to feel heavy and stale. Performing strides can reinvigorate your legs and counter the effects of training.
4. Strides also improve running economy as training your muscles to run fast and relaxed over a short distance translates into faster, relaxed running at longer distances.
5. Strides help improve your running form in short increments. When learning to run with right form it can be challenging to stay focused on it through the duration of a longer run. With short strides it is easier to put an emphasis on Right Form Running, and doing so while running faster than usual allowing you to key in on form work.
How To Perform
The total drill is about 100m in length and is broken down into 3 equal parts. Begin by running with right form at a comfortable pace and gradually increase your pace to about 95% of maximum speed over 30m. Then, hold the near maximal effort for 30m without compromising your form. Complete the stride by gradually slowing down under control for the last 30m. Recover with a slow jog or walk for 1 – 2 minutes between each stride.
Perform each stride for 90-100m in total movement. Start with a set of 4 and increase to 6-8 over subsequent efforts.
Watch the video below to learn how to perform strides correctly.