Strides are relaxed and controlled bursts of speed ranging anywhere from 60 meters to 200 meters, or 20-35 seconds. They can be used in variety of ways to enhance your training. The goal of a stride is to maintain good running form, while accelerating into a hard effort (85% – 95% of max). Strides are NOT a race and you should not be straining to complete them; instead, you should focus on running fast while relaxed.
Many runners don’t think to incorporate strides into their training, but strides are a great way to introduce faster speed workouts. Plus, distance running can be monotonous and can leave you feeling stale after long periods of training. Incorporating strides will stress your body in a new way and will strengthen your fast-twitch muscle fibers without breaking you down.
Who should do strides?
All runners from the beginner to the professional should incorporate strides into their daily training. They only take a few minutes to complete but they make you a stronger and more efficient runner.
Where should you do strides?
Strides can be done anywhere! I’m a collegiate coach and I incorporate strides into my athletes’ training in a few ways. On workout days, I have my runners do strides on the track or trails. On recovery days, my athletes will complete strides in the parking lot, side of the road or on the trails. Some other coaches I know prescribe their strides to be done on a hill to help with running economy and efficiency.
When should you do strides?
Before workouts or races
After a proper warm-up routine, the strides serve as the perfect transition to running fast in a workout or a race. They will help blood flow into your muscles and will also help you mentally prepare to run fast.
After recovery runs
Strides after recovery runs teaches your body to run efficiently. When doing them on tired legs, it’s best to focus on your turnover and maintaining proper form. Strides can also help to loosen up tight muscles post-run so that you feel better the next day.
After long runs or a workout
I like to do strides after all workouts and sometimes long runs because it teaches your body to have quick turnover on tired legs. At the end of a race, ideally you’ll have a kick, which is essentially sprinting on tired legs. So practicing it in your training will help your body learn running in that extra gear. Doing strides after a hard long run took me some time to adjust to, they did not feel good at first, but now when I do them they help my body feel better and less tight.
How many strides should you do and how much rest should you have between each one?
I typically recommend doing four to six strides depending on the situation. Before and after workouts, I recommend doing four strides. If you are doing strides after a recovery run, I usually have athletes do six strides. In between each stride, you want to take about 60 to 90 seconds jogging rest. There is no physiological benefit from taking less rest. In fact, you want to be fully recovered so that your form doesn’t break down and overtaxing yourself defeats one of the purposes of the strides, to get a little speed work without necessitating recovery.
Do you do strides? How have they helped your training and racing?