Running Strides: Neuromuscular Training For Runners

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You may have heard runners and coaches referring to running strides, also known as striders or accelerations.

What are Running Strides?

Strides are short, technique focused running efforts. These are great for reinforcing proper running form and efficient biomechanics. As a form of neuromuscular training for runners, strides are a great way of developing speed

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.

In the great video above, 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.

Strides provide 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

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:

  • 4-6 sets of 60-100 meters at a pace that accelerates from easy to 5k race pace. Think about posture, maintaining a high cadence, picking your feet up, and driving with the arms!

Although each of these efforts builds up to a pace far faster than the pace I complete the majority of 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 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 me what you think in the comments section below…

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Last updated on July 21st, 2019.
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5 Comments

  1. 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!

    1. 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! 🙂

  2. 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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