How to do a Stride
After running your assigned workout plan to do your strides in the last mile of your run. Gradually accelerate your pace and hold for 15 – 20 seconds and then gradually slow down. This is not as fast as you can run but a pace where you are moving faster, thinking about your leg turn over and working on your running mechanics. It’s important not to explode into all out sprint as that is not the purpose nor will that accomplish the same benefit and it could lead to injury. We want you running faster but with control. These can be done anywhere but ideally they'd be done somewhere where there is good footing and relatively flat.
Why are strides such a great training tool?
They are so short that many think that there can be no benefit. But it’s precisely the brief speed work which makes these so beneficial!
Endurance athletes spend most of the time running at a general aerobic pace. Strides are a safe and controlled way to offer speed training with minimal risks. They can be used by anyone in the off season, anyone who is injury prone or returning from injury to help with speed mechanics and anyone who may be daunted by more formal speed work.
It’s very easy to get stuck in a cadence or pace where you always run at the same pace and effort. Adding short strides provides a great way to stretch out your legs and change up that pace and over time this will lead to getting faster.
There are several reasons we want to do this. A quicker pace will use a different energy system and will feel more challenging thus making the easy pace feel easier. On a neuromuscular level the goal is always to improve the communication between the brain and the body. The quick bursts in pace will cause our bodies to build more nerve pathways that we will use for better timing and coordination.
Practice makes perfect
When all your running is at an easy pace, it’s difficult to focus on running form. Most runners tend to do the same gait patterns over and over again. These short and speedy bursts give you a chance to work on important form cues.
Some running tips for strides (and in general for faster running):
If you are new to strides, start with 4 x about 20 seconds once or twice a week with any run. Those who are more experienced or who have been running strides for a few weeks can progress to 6 x 20 seconds. Remember, these should be fun and not taxing at all!