A Quick and Dirty Primer on Strides 

Many distance runners are conscientious about putting in miles or running quality speed workouts, but these same runners often neglect an important aspect of the training package: Strides.  The following article gives you the basics on this important, yet oft neglected training technique.  

WHAT ARE STRIDES?  Strides (or striders or strideouts) are short, fast runs of between 50 and 200 metres.  They are run at a "comfortable sprint" pace (i.e. as fast as you can go without tying up and losing good form.)  A typical Strides Session might be 10 x 100m following a 30 minute easy run. 

WHO SHOULD DO STRIDES?  All distance racers, from milers to marathoners, should incorporate Strides into their training program on a year round basis.  However, as a general rule, they are more important for shorter distance runners. 

WHY DO I NEED TO DO STRIDES?  Strides help you in at least three ways: 

  • Improved leg speed - to run fast, you gotta run fast
  • Improved flexibility and coordination - faster running puts your legs through a more complete range of motion; quicker leg turnover forces you to coordinate your movements to prevent tripping or stumbling
  • Improved running economy - training your muscles to run fast and relaxed over a short distance should translate into faster, relaxed running at longer distances.
WHEN SHOULD I DO STRIDES?  You should do a full Strides Session at least once a week, preferably after a medium intensity or recovery run. In addition, a few strides (e.g. 6 x 50m) can be done as part of a warm up before a race or track workout. Because good form is important when doing Strides, you should avoid doing them after an intense speed workout or very long run; you don't want to be fatigued when you are doing them.   

WHERE SHOULD I DO STRIDES?  A soft, yet smooth and consistent surface is the best venue for Strides.  A well maintained football field or soccer pitch is an excellent choice.  Alternatively, a relatively flat beach during low tide is another good option. Running Strides in bare feet can help you develop flexibility and strength in your feet, ankles, and lower legs. 

HOW SHOULD I DO STRIDES? The key to running good Strides is to think Fast and Relaxed.  You should be concentrating on quick leg turnover, relaxed shoulders, and a tall posture.  In addition, don't over stride.  Take a full recovery between each repetition; you shouldn't be out of breath before you start a Stride.  If you find yourself tying up before the end of each Stride, either slow down, take more rest between reps, or shorten the distance of the repetition. 

For a comprehensive help for all areas of your running, check out a Run Quick training program.

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