What are Strides? These Magical Additions to Your Workouts Can Take Your Running to the Next Level

Man running

Want to become a faster runner, improve your form and relax into speed? Try strides. You’ll be so hooked you’ll add them to every workout.

Editor’s note: This is a part of a weekly series featuring training, running and motivational tips from marathoner @trackclubbabe. Tune in every Tuesday for her newest tip. 

Do you do strides?! I never did. I also got into the bad habit of skipping my warmup.  You can imagine how that worked out for me. I used to worry that warming up would sap me of all my energy before my workout or run. It’s actually the total opposite. Strides help your legs warm up and help avoid that heavy leg feeling during your workouts. They also help sharpen the tools and prime the pump. Now I never start any workout without my warmup + strides + drills combo.

What Are Strides?

Strides are 10-15 second bursts of faster running. You can perform strides using your 10K pace or mile pace depending on what type of workout you are preparing for. For example, if you’re using strides to amplify your final push in a marathon, you don’t need to be hitting the same paces you would if you were prepping for a mile race.

Why Should I Consider Adding Strides to My Workouts?

There are so many reasons strides are beneficial to athletes. Here’s why I love them:

1. They Help Ease You Into Speed

Strides help get your heart rate elevated before your workout so your body isn’t shocked by unexpected speed.

2. Strides Help Reinforce Proper Form

Fast/hard running can help reinforce proper form. My husband, @tunderface, always reminds me to hold 400m/stride form during workouts because it’s the right form to have -strong and powerful with the right lean and quick cadence.

3. Strides Help You to Be Faster But Also Relaxed

Strides teach you how to run fast while being relaxed. It was important for me to learn how to let the speed come out of me rather than muscling the speed out.

How Many Times Per Week Should I Perform Strides?

I do them during warmups before any workout or long run. If I have an upcoming race, I do them during my last easy run before the race to get my legs turning over.

Should I Do Strides at the Beginning or End of My Workout?

Doing strides before your workout helps you to warm up and get your muscular system ready to run (i.e. revving the engine).  Strides after a workout help you learn to find turnover and run fast on tired legs. They serve totally different purposes. If you don’t already run strides before hard workouts, I HIGHLY recommend you start. It really helped me change the quality of my speed workouts. I couldn’t imagine starting a speed workout or tempo coming off of a slow or easy warmup anymore. Strides help my muscles wake up and practice explosive speed.

How Should I Incorporate Strides into My Workouts?

I do about 6 strides of 100 meters or so before a workout and include a full rest in between. The purpose is to build up to the speed that you need to be hitting in your workout so that you’re reminding your legs what that turnover feels like.

If you get a chance to try barefoot strides- take it! Barefoot running can help you naturally find the right form. The more you can recognize great form when you’re running fast, the more you can go back to that form when you’re tired. The right form helps to reenergize your running. But you have to know what it feels like first!

If you don’t do strides, make them a part of your running routine. I promise it’s a gamechanger. I would never start a workout or race without them.

Author Bio: @trackclubbabe, AKA Kimberly Clark Underwood, started running in 2012 to see if she could train for a marathon & fell in love with running. She went from hoping to run 10 minute miles in the marathon to aiming for a sub 3 marathon. She posts the highs & lows of training + everything that has helped her to improve on her IG.

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