Running Strides Can Help You Run Faster

Marc Lindsay
by Marc Lindsay
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Running Strides Can Help You Run Faster

Not quite a sprint nor an interval, strides are a running drill that serves many purposes. This drill can be just the thing you need to get faster, perfect your running form and warm up properly before an event.

Strides are designed to improve your form and mechanics while running at faster speeds. Running strides can help you increase your stride length without compromising your turnover or foot strike position. Strides typically last between 20–30 seconds or about 80–100 yards in distance.

BENEFITS OF RUNNING STRIDES

There are many benefits to running strides. Stride drills can be used for a variety of different reasons depending on your goals. Here are a few of the primary purposes for including these in your regimen 2–3 times per week.

  • Running form: We all have a natural running form that can be difficult to tweak or change. When you’re out on the road, it can be difficult to concentrate on your running form for 30 minutes or longer without getting burnt out mentally. Focusing on efficiency for shorter time increments is easier, and since strides are typically done when you’re not totally exhausted, it makes the task even more doable.
  • Speed: Most training mileage is done at slower speeds. But when the gun goes off and the adrenaline starts to flow, you’ll usually amp up the pace. Running strides prior to your workout can help your body get used to faster efforts and keep your body from reacting negatively at the start of a race.
  • Warmup: Racing or completing intervals in a cold state before your legs are ready for hard efforts can lead to muscle strains or other injuries. Strides can be a great way to prepare the body for harder efforts to come and get used to the feeling of a faster pace before you’re right in the middle of things.
  • Cooldown: If you’re training for a marathon, then you probably know how stiff and achy your legs can feel after a long, slow run. Introducing strides directly following your workout can be a good way to get rid of lactic acid, put some speed in your legs and feel a little fresher physically and mentally from the same old run.

HOW TO RUN STRIDES

Strides can be varied according to your fitness goals and individual needs. Below is a rundown of how to do a basic stride along with a few tips.

  1. Find a flat surface. A track is perfect. If you’re lucky enough to have a grassy location, you can try running your strides barefoot, too. You’ll want an area that’s at least 80–100 yards in distance.
  2. If you’re completing strides as part of a warmup, make sure you complete 5–10 minutes of light jogging before getting started. If it’s part of a cooldown, don’t begin your strides until you’ve had enough time for your breathing and heart rate to drop.
  3. The first 5–10 seconds of your 20–30-second stride should be at an easy pace. Focus on your foot strike, arm swing and maintaining a tall, upright posture.
  4. Gradually build your speed until you’ve reached about 85% of your maximum speed at the 3/4 point. Don’t let your form falter, and instead keep a relaxed face while working on landing toward the midfoot instead of the heel.
  5. For the last 1/4 of your stride, begin to decelerate until you come to a stop. Walk back to your starting point or take a two-minute break before completing another one.
  6. Complete 4–8 strides total before beginning your workout or ending your run with a stretching routine.

About the Author

Marc Lindsay
Marc Lindsay

Marc is a freelance writer based in Scottsdale, Arizona. He holds a master’s degree in writing from Portland State University and is a certified physical therapy assistant. An avid cyclist and runner of over 20 years, Marc contributes to LAVA, Competitor and Phoenix Outdoor magazines. He is the former cycling editor for Active.com.

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