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Coaches Corner: Strides
What are strides?
Strides are short runs usually of about 15-20 secs long. You start by building up speed for the first few seconds, then maintain an effort level of about 85%, then slowly return to a jog over the last few seconds.
What is the purpose of doing strides?
Strides are best used to work on running form. I like to choose one part of the running form to work on during each stride. You can work on driving your knee higher, cadence, getting your trail leg to kick towards your butt or anything that you have been working on to improve.
How do you incorporate strides into your training schedule?
You can put in strides into your schedule in various ways depending on what your training goals are.
The common stride:
Goal: Just getting starting running, training for a longer race distance, or just running for fun
For these runners I like to put strides in after easy runs. It is a good time to work on form and helps increase range of motion and power after the relatively small steps while doing an easy run. 4-6 strides for 15-20 secs at 80-85% effort with slow jog back recovery will work great for these runners. Aim for 2-3 times a week.
The power stride:
Goal: Increase power or strength, beginning of a program for middle distance runners
For these runners I like to put strides after shorter easy runs and do them on hills. Great way to introduce hill running before doing a full hill session. Power is huge for all runners and if you are going to be doing hill sessions as part of your training than doing a few weeks of hill strides is a great way to get ready for those sessions. 4-6 strides for 15-20 secs at 80-85% effort with slow jog downhill recovery. Find a hill that is moderately steep. For NYC runners think strawberry hill or Cat hill. Aim for once a week and on another day do the common stride.
The Speed stride:
Goal: Increase speed during later stages of a speed training cycle, before harder sessions
For these runners I put them as part of the warm up for harder sessions like intervals or tempo runs or after short easy runs the day after a hard workout. Before a running session these strides will get the muscles warmed well, increasing ROM and coordination, getting ready to attack the session. For middle distance runners or runners doing a speed training cycle it gives an extra speed session to work on form and mechanics without the recovery needed from a full workout. 4-6 strides for 15-20 secs starting at 80-85% effort and with each stride increasing the effort until you are almost at max speed for the last stride with jog back recovery. Aim to do these before your hard training sessions or if part of your speed cycle once a week the day following a workout, but only in the last 3 to 4 weeks of the cycle.
Remember in any of the strides described above you should be thinking about a part of your form that you want to work on. Always maintain control and slowly build into each run. Try them and see how you feel!