Strides: Do Them Weekly

Last year I wrote a 4 part series on sprinting. Well, it was really more about earning the right to sprint – as actually sprinting didn't happen until part 4! In part 3, I discussed "strides" and I have a bit more to say on the topic. So, if you're unfamiliar with that term, go back and read that post! Quite simply, a stride (sometimes called "striders") is a short bout of faster, relaxed running where you are focusing on accelerating smoothly.  They're also a great opportunity to work on your form and the most common form mistake, overstriding.

Remember: put that foot down under (rather than out in front of) your body!

Strides are a “need to do, not a nice to do” as coach Vern Gambetta likes to say.  Yet, in my experience, people aren't doing them and they're such an easy and convenient way to develop speed.

To me, this means they are an essential aspect of training. Well, if you have any interest in running fast, that is. Just like the long run is essential when you're training for a marathon, so are strides if you want to be faster at ANY distance.

When Should You Do Strides?

On easy days. And that, to me, is a key point. I like to feel like I'm accomplishing something. Like I'm moving closer to my goals. Like what I'm doing is actually making me a better runner.

Well, strides give you just that – a way to get much more out of the good ol' easy run without risking injury.

And not only that, if you do them the day before a hard workout or race, you'll likely notice you feel more pop in your legs the next day. See for yourself. Weird, but it works!

Here's a simple way to incorporate them into your program.

Go for your normal easy run and when you get to the 2/3rds point, do your first 20-30sec stride. 5K pace is perfect – not too fast. Resume easy run pace (don't slow down) for about 60 seconds and repeat until your run is finished.

If your aerobic fitness won't let you repeat after 60 seconds, continue running easy until you're ready to go again. This is not meant to be a stressful session.

You should finish the run feeling AWESOME.

Strides are often the first structured speed work I incorporate in clients' programs because they're a gentle introduction to fast running. Plus, you can - and should - do them a few times per week.

If you're more experienced and you're doing structured workouts, then use strides as a way to prepare for the following workout.

Here's a sample week:

Monday Easy run w/ 6x 20 sec strides
Tuesday SPEED Workout
Wednesday Rest or easy run
Thursday Easy run w/ 8x 30 sec strides
Friday TEMPO Run
Saturday Rest or easy run
Sunday LONG Run (might even throw some in here!)

So, without any additional time commitment on your part, you can easily and safely get faster.

A Few More Quick Tips

*Run faster than 5K pace if you're training for a 5K. Otherwise, most people will be fine to just keep them to 5K pace.

*Strides AREN'T sprints.

*Stay relaxed and free of tension.

*Traditionally, strides are also done near the end of the warm up before the main set of a workout.

**Just start doing them consistently!

Do you incorporate strides in regularly?  If so, would you please share how you think they've helped?