Strides are an easy training tool to add into your running plans. These are a perfect addition because they don’t require a lot of time and can easily be added to any of your weekly runs.
What they are: These are short bursts of swift running, usually around 100 meters. You can do these from about 80 meters minimum to 150 maximum.
How to do it: Start running at a nice easy conversation pace for about 20 meters and then begin to build up your speed and intensity for the remainder of the run, ending with a few steps at easy conversation pace. Follow this up by either standing to rest or with a brief walk to allow your heart rate to go back down. Repeat these in sets of approximately 6-10.
Try to focus on having a nice smooth and relaxed cadence. Pay attention to your form, as this will help it improve on your longer runs. Most importantly make sure your body stays loose; watch your hands and shoulders and make sure you don’t start clenching or rising your shoulders up into your ears.
What they do: Strides are so great at helping your running in many different aspects. As mentioned before, they help you work on improving your running form. Most importantly they train your body to build up your fast twitch fibers. As someone once pointed out to me, if you look around before a race at the other runners, who do you see doing strides? The runners that cross the finish line the earliest!
By doing short bursts of high intensity running you are enacting your body’s phosphagen system. When you do this, it calls upon your fast twitch fibers and teaches neuromuscular memory. This training will help teach your body to surge after a run.
When to do these: These are great to do 2-3 times per week either before a hard effort run or after a nice long run. They can be used as your warm up or as a cool down. The best part is these can be done just about anywhere that is nice and flat. If you want to try your hand at barefoot running, these are great to practice on the grass (not that you could find any here these days!).
Strides are great to incorporate into your running year round, whether you are training for a race or not. They are pefect for adding to a training program, but will help you improve your running speed even if a race is not in your future. Better yet, these are great for runners of all levels whether you are a complete beginner or an awesome elite.
Side note: You can use a track to do these on if you have access. When I did these as part of my marathon training I was using a sidewalk along the East River. I used a Garmin watch and wasn’t sure how to figure out what exactly was 100m long. For those of you wondering, 100m= approximately 0.06mi on your GPS.
When I do strides, I find a spot to start and walk out 100m using my watch. Once I know my starting and stopping points I run from point A to point B and do a nice easy paced walk back to the start as my recovery before beginning again.
Now go out there and enjoy some strides!
Another shout out goes out to my friend Mike who is running the Disney marathon. Good luck to you and all the other Disney marathoners today.!