Response From Coach James Dunne
Great question, thanks. For readers who are unsure as to what strides are, here’s a post with more details about adding strides to your running workouts.
I certainly find it beneficial to get many of my athletes to complete a few sets of technique-focussed strides to end a dynamic warm-up, in preparation for their main session. The main reason being for them to feel the elements of good form that come together as they perform these short, relatively quick, slightly exaggerated efforts.
Personally though, I’ve grown to believe that going through the motions of doing strides simply as an abstract drill will not automatically result in improved running at a steady pace, your marathon race pace for example.
Time and time again, I watch runners at track sessions who can perform their drills impeccably, yet still they display significantly flawed running form as soon as they start the main running session!
Don’t get me wrong – Strides and drills are indeed brilliant for improving running form… but only when you consciously allow the carry-over to occur. This involves the athlete being mindful about how they are running at every given pace. To help achieve the carry-over, I encourage runners to consciously feel the desired elements of technique within the strides or drill. With that feeling fresh in mind they then try to recreate the feeling in a less forced and exaggerated (more relaxed) manner as they run during their main session.
We’ll pick one or two key technique points per session to consciously focus on – as well as pacing etc…
Don’t simply hope for carry-over from your strides or other drills, instead consciously try to integrate the elements of good running form you develop doing strides into your steady state running. This is all about looking to recreate the feeling you had when doing your strides, albeit in a more relax manner when you’re running easy.