You may often hear runners and coaches referring to running 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 or two of running strides into any of your training 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 Running 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.
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 running 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…