Running lingo can be a little bit confusing to a new runner, or even someone who has been in the running world for years! You hear all these terms… fartlek, threshold, strides and go what the heck?! I just want to run! But these terms all have benefit and meaning to help you improve as a runner. Today, let’s focus on Strides.
So, strides. What are they?
Strides are usually performed as a series of quick surges of fast running, typically short in length, followed by full recovery. They are a pre-cursor to doing more advanced speed work. Typically you will perform 4-6 strides of about 100 meters (or 15-20 seconds).
What benefits to strides provide?
Improved cadence: Typically, the faster you run you quicker your leg turn over, thus increasing your cadence. Increasing your cadence can (at times) improve your running form and efficiency.
Improve running form: As mentioned above, strides can improve your running form. You’ll have higher knee drive and eliminate over striding. To run at its fastest, the body will also run at its most efficient. Using strides to help improve poor posture and excessive arm swing is a great start to becoming more efficient and using the proper running biomechanics.
Help to “wake up” the fast twitch muscles: Strides can be done the day before your quality workout, or right before your quality session to help your legs get ready to run fast. Remember these are just short bursts, so they won’t wear you out before your speed session or race but they will help to prep your body!
Speed work in disguise: So much of a runner’s training is aerobic, so strides a great way to add in small amounts of extra speed work (again, by recruiting those fast twitch muscles) without needing all the extra recovery time from a full high intensity quality training session.
Recovery and stretching out stiffness: After an easier or long run, strides will increase blood circulation to your muscles and help to break up some lactic acid build up in your legs… both of which aid in recovery.
I somewhat hinted at this above, but when should a runner do strides?
Post easy run, the day before a quality session or long run
After the warmup jog, before the quality session
After the warmup jog, before a race
Now that I know when… how do I run strides?
Strides are typically 80-100 meters in length (15-25 seconds for most runners) and are ran at about 80-85% effort (about your 5k pace). They are usually performed in sets of 4-6 reps with 45-90 seconds rest between, taken as a walk or waiting in the same spot for the next to begin.
I hope this was helpful and that you’ll begin to incorporate strides into your weekly training program!