/ / What are Strides? Benefits and How to Run Strides

What are Strides? Benefits and How to Run Strides

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Are you looking to run faster? Improve your form? Ease into speed work and reduce your risk of injury? If any (or all) of these apply to you, then it’s time to learn how to run strides. Strides are an effective way to become a more efficient runner and they only take a few minutes to do. The best news is, you can be any level of runner to incorporate strides into your training.

A woman is running on a road outside. She is wearing light blue leggings, a black and pink long sleeve shirt, and a light pink vest. There are trees and snow behind her.

What are strides?

Strides are small bursts of acceleration and are also known as “striders”. Typically, strides are about 100m or .06 mile long, last 20-30 seconds, and have 1-2 minutes of recovery in between each.

I often tell my athletes to think of striders like a rollercoaster, similar to the visual below. To start, run at a comfy effort and slowly increase your speed for about 5-10 seconds. Continue increasing your pace until you feel you’re at a 9/10 effort. Hold that 9/10 effort for about 5-10 seconds before easing back down to a comfy effort. Give yourself 1-2 minutes to fully recover, and repeat.

There is a blue bell curve showing how to run strides. It shows that as you run further, your pace should increase. Once you hold that speed for a few seconds, start slowing down your speed.

Why should I run strides?

There are many benefits to running striders. The reason behind doing them may differ from runner to runner.

  1. First, strides build comfort running faster. They’re short, sweet, and to the point! A runner will experience running at almost max effort yet only for a brief period of time.
  2. Striders are a transition from an easy run to a hard run. For instance, many runners will run strides after an easy run the day before a speed workout. This is because they prime our bodies for faster running. Oftentimes, runners will also run strides at the track right before starting a speed workout.
  3. Furthermore, strides improve your form because they’re fast paced and form focused. However, when someone is running them, they are not overly tired from a workout or race. Make a mental note to pump your arms forward and back, stand tall with a slight forward lean, and stay as relaxed as possible; they should feel pretty fluid throughout.
  4. Strides are also an introduction to speed work if you are a newer runner. Strides allow these runners to slowly ease into faster paced running without putting much stress on the body. Just make sure you are fully recovered before moving onto the next stride.
  5. If incorporated into your training, striders can reduce the risk of injury. Because they are short, form focused, slowly ease new runners into speed work, and prep the body for faster running, they give any runner the benefits while not overly taxing the body.
  6. Finally, striders can help runners with their finishing kick at the end of a race. Because you’ve practiced strides many times throughout your training, your body is used to running fast while staying relaxed and using proper form.

When should I run strides?

There are a few different times when someone might be running strides.

  • After an easy run. As runners train for long distance races, their legs can become tight from an abundance of aerobic miles. Strides help break up the tightness after an easy run and stretch out a runner’s legs. Additionally, running strides the day before a hard effort run will prep your legs for the fast turnover.
  • Immediately before a speed workout. Let’s say you’re at the track for speed work. After you’ve completed your warmup and drills, you could run a few striders. Running strides primes our bodies for faster running.
  • Start line of a race. More advanced runners may run strides during a race warmup. Just be cautious with the number of the reps and how much energy you’re exerting – you want to save your energy for the actual race.
A woman is running down a driveway. She is wearing a black tank top and sea green shorts. She is smiling.

How many strides should I run?

This depends on you and your running history, and can also change as you move throughout your training.

If you are a beginner runner and have never incorporated speed work into your training, strides are a great place to start. Begin with two strides once a week after an easy run. Then, increase to twice a week and build to four strides.

If you are more advanced, this may look different for you. It’s possible you are running six to ten strides at a time, multiple times a week. For instance, you could be running them after your easy and long runs, as well as before a speed workout and race.

Personally, I like to run strides without anything in my hands. I always slip my phone into my FlipBelt so I can really focus on my form.

Where should I run strides?

You can run striders just about anywhere. Try to find a flat and straight stretch of road or sidewalk that’s about 100m in length. If you’re on an outdoor track, this will be one of the longer sides.

You can even run strides on the treadmill. After an easy run, slow to walk. Increase your speed until you’re at a 9/10 effort, hold for 5-10 seconds, and then slow back down to a walk. Walk for 1-2 minutes to fully recover and repeat.

Recap of running strides

All in all, strides are perfect to incorporate into your training if you are looking to become a faster and more efficient runner. It doesn’t matter what level you are – almost anyone can run strides and reap the benefits.

Comment below:

Do you incorporate strides into your training? If so, how often do you run them?

I would love to help you reach your running goals. Click here to learn more about my run coaching services and please ask any questions using the form on my contact page.

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