What are strides?
Strides are short bursts of effort ranging from 15 - 30 seconds completed at a track or relatively flat, runnable surface. Strides are run at an up-tempo pace but slower than an all-out sprint. The idea is to exaggerate perfect running form while focusing on quick turnover over the feet.
Strides are often used as part of a warm-up or cool-down routine following a workout and are beneficial when coming back from injury or downtime to reintroduce speed to a training routine.
How to run strides?
As we mentioned above, this is NOT a sprint. After a warm-up, from an upright start, ease into the stride by taking 5 - 10 seconds to get up to speed. (Focus on quick steps, good posture, and relaxed form) Once you reach approximately 80% of your top-end speed, hold that pace for 15 seconds, then slowly begin to decelerate down to a jog and then an easy walk.
Strides should cause a spike in heart rate and breath rate, so walking an additional 30 seconds to a minute would be ideal as your body recovers. Once recovered, repeat anywhere between 5 - 10 times.
Strides incorporated into a workout
Often, runners will structure workouts to include strides as a way of training to hit specific paces. With this approach, the technique will be the same, but the athlete will be mindful of the pace on their watch, or the athlete will be asked to cover a certain distance in an allotted amount of time to mimic a goal race pace.
Hill repeats may be completed using stride techniques. This is a great way to develop lower body strength for climbing and long endurance races. In this case, the rest breaks may be increased to ensure the runner is completely recovered before each set.
*If a runner isn’t recovered, there’s a good chance running form will suffer*
Strides for recovery
Recovery is an essential part of any training program. Strides are known to promote blood flow, increase mobility, and maximize running efficiency, all of which may help recovery efforts.
After strenuous training, the legs may feel heavy with less bounce. The quick turnover from strides causes a spike in heart rate, which facilitates blood flow, delivering much-needed oxygen and nutrients to leg muscles to help with soreness and fatigue.
Mobility is addressed by running with exaggerated, perfect running form because the leg swings much further than it would for easy-paced miles. This helps relieves stiffness through the hips and improves baseline running efficiency, which reduced the risk of injury.