Running Strides. Maybe you’ve seen this on your training plan during race week or heard the term thrown around, but aren’t 100% sure if you’re doing them right.
No worries, runners have an entire vocabulary that we don’t always realize isn’t completely understood by both new and long time runners! In this instance, we aren’t talking about running form or analyzing your stride, we’re talking about another term for speed work.
A few other running terms you might need to know in the future, before we move on!
Why do running strides?
One of the reasons, you often see a workout during race week of 3 easy miles + 5 strides is because their an effective way to get in a little speed without taxing the body. I wouldn’t consider them a speed training session, more like a running drill to add on to the end of your workout.
These short bursts allow you to:
- practice foot turnover, instead of reaching for the next footfall to go faster
- maybe shake off some cobwebs from easy running
- are so short they won’t shoot up your heart rate
- improve your running cadence
In fact, LHR runners could throw in 3 or 4 at the end of a run each week if desired. It’s a nice way to feel like you’re not always running at that slow pace and know that you will be able to pick up the speed when needed.
Do strides make you faster?
Yes. A lot of top athletes swear by including them and they’re a very good way for new runners to begin introducing speed without intimidation or going too far and risking injury.
How to do running strides?
Great now we know why they show up on training plans, but how do we do them correctly? When someone starts assigning intervals like 8 x 30 seconds, that is no longer a stride.
Strides are done after you finish your run and look like this:
- short relaxed sprint
- shorter than .1 mile (yes SHORT)
- it’s a quick pick up, then back to recovery
- 85% effort, but everything stays relaxed, no straining
- you’ll take a full recovery between strides, which could mean 2 minutes of walking or easy jogging
- think of quick feet, not longer strides
- think about squeezing your glutes
Don’t think of this as a time where you’re trying to beat a previous time or GET FASTER. This is a drill that will help you to improve speed, but isn’t a workout. Don’t time it, just do the short burst and then recover and go again.
How many strides should you do?
In general, there’s no need to do more than 3-6 strides for most runners. You can start to incorporate them weekly at the end of easy or long runs, once you’ve established a solid running base.
These are different than intervals where you run a set distance for a set time, with a set amount of recovery. Instead, remember you’re focusing on doing a short pick up of speed to practice that feeling and then walking to recover.
When should you do strides?
Most often you’ll see them prescribed as something to do AFTER you finish an easy run. However, some coaches like to include them in the middle of a longer mid-week easy run.
The benefit is the same, just a different way of working out. Doing them during a longer run, can help to simply switch gears and sometimes bring a little life back to your legs if they’re feeling heavy.
All right, short and sweet just like striders!! I hope this helps to explain this running term for you!
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