What Are Strides? Neuromuscular Training For Runners

Mar 4, 2013   //   by James Dunne   //   Running Technique Advice  //  5 Comments

You may often hear runners and coaches referring to Strides, also known as Striders or Accelerations.

These short sharp running efforts are brilliant when it comes to reinforcing good running form and efficient biomechanics. Even though these strides are completed at a fast pace, runners who complete most of their training at a steady pace like marathoners and ultrarunners will benefit from the good habits that they promote.

This great video from Coach Greg McMillan explains why it’s important for runners of all levels and types to include regular sets of strides into their training schedule. He explains how these short, sharp neuromuscular sessions work.

If you’re pushed for time, and want to complete a running session that provides good technical ‘bang for your buck‘, strides are a great option!

Alternatively add a set of strides into any of your running sessions, between the end of the warm-up and the start of your main workout. This will help prepare your body for the running workout ahead, getting the body neurologically prepared and fired-up for running with efficient form.

Once comfortable with the concept, try adding a set of strides to the end of your long run – but be cautious with the maximum pace you reach when fatigued. This provides a great stimulus for your legs to get used to holding good form and cadence when fatigued, as well as providing a good dynamic stretch which may help recovery after your long steady session.

How To Perform Strides

There are numerous ways of performing a set of strides. Personally, I like to first warm-up properly with a 10-15min easy run, then some dynamic stretches and drills, then I do the following:

  • 5 sets of 200m
    Each 200m run as: 50m easy  ->  100m accelerate to 95% of max  ->  50m easy  ->  walk back

Although each of these efforts build up to a pace far faster than the pace I complete all my training at, the focus is on staying relaxed and achieving great running technique.

Barefoot Strides?

Some coaches advocate running barefoot strides to help improve running form, strengthen the feet, ankles and lower legs, and improving proprioception.

I’ve seen great results with this, both personally and with some athletes I work with. We’d warm-up in proper running shoes, then do the strides barefoot, then put our footwear back on for the rest of the session. This is a great example of using barefoot running as a coaching tool, rather than a lifestyle choice!

However, this won’t be appropriate for all runners. So if you do decide to try running barefoot strides, try only a few efforts at first, and go easy.

Do You Find Strides Beneficial?

Please tell us what you think in the comments section below…

About The Author

James has an academic background in Sport Rehabilitation and a special interest in Applied Biomechanics. He currently coaches a large number of Runners and Triathletes across all levels of ability and performance. He's grown a strong reputation for enabling athletes to improve their running performance and overcome running injuries through improving their Running Technique and developing Running Specific Strength.

 

5 Comments

  • [...] Why strides are important for runners of all levels, types, and distances. [...]

  • Great! Thanks for this. I’m a distance runner, but really need to build some speed. Three times a week, I run twice a day. My plan is to do strides after each of my 3 morning runs to improve my turnovers, then hit the track in the evening for harder workout sessions. Thanks again for this nice post!

  • I actually do most of my strides during my EZ runs. I’ll often do a 100-200m stride every 5 minutes.

    • Thanks for sharing this suggestion Kyle. I too have tried this in the past and really like adding quicker technique-focused bursts into my long steady runs… Reminds me – I must start doing it again! :)

  • I guess I’ve been sort of doing this for a while with 30 seconds on / 30 off x20. However we try to balance the effort by always getting to the same point on each rep, which becomes hard then really hard. Not quite at mile pace but higher than 5k.

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