What you need to know about running strides

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Strides are a great way to improve your speed and running form without taxing your body. But what exactly are strides, why should you do them, and when?

What are running strides?

Strides are 10-20 seconds speed bursts. They’re not all-out sprints, but they’re about 8-9 on the RPE scale.

You simply run at close to top speed for the duration of time, then slowly jog for about a minute, before repeating the process.

The important thing about strides is to focus on good running form, and moving your legs and arms fast. It’s not about how much ground you cover while doing them. There shouldn’t be any tension in your body – stress and fatigue will prevent you from achieving the desired goal.

Why do them?

Strides build speed and help you become more efficient at all sub-maximal running paces.

They provide a neuromuscular benefit. That’s a fancy way of saying they train the pathways between your brain and muscles to fire more quickly and efficiently, and results in faster turnover and running.

Strides are also a convenient and easy way to introduce some speed work into your training, and stop your legs from going stale. This is important for marathon and ultra runners, who spend significant time running at slower speeds to build their aerobic system.

When should you do strides?

I usually slot strides in at the end of a one easy run per week, and during the warm-up phase of a workout.

Doing strides after an easy session is a great way to break up the monotony and make your weary legs feel fresh again. On the other hand, strides can also be used as a primer and prepare your body for more rigorous running during a workout like intervals.

Below are examples of when to include strides in your weekly training plan.

Easy run (once a week)Workout
Easy runWarm-up
4-6 × 20s with 1 min recovery3 × 20s strides with 1 min recovery
Cool downWorkout (intervals etc)
Cool down

It can sometimes be difficult to remember to do strides, or know when it’s best to do them every week.

All the custom training plans I provide take the guesswork out of scheduling them. They’ll also be synced automatically to your watch via TrainingPeaks for convenience. You just run, hit the lap button, do your strides and finish knowing you’ve improved your running form.

Running strides summary

If you’re looking to improve your running speed and endurance, be sure to add strides to your training routine. Strides are a great way to improve your running form and become a faster runner.

  • Do them once a week after an easy session.
  • Beginners should do 4 × 15 sec whereas advanced runners can do 6-8 × 15-20 sec.
  • 2-3 short strides while warming up for a workout can be beneficial.

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