How Strides Can Improve Your Running

Someone turned up the heat in Erie, Pennsylvania!

You won’t see me complain because it is substantially better than the 6 months of constant snow, wind and cold we seem to get. My body however has not quite gotten used to running in the heat. It takes some time to re-adjust.

Yesterday after I got off work I headed out the door to start running before my body could realize how warm it was. Surprisingly even though my legs were tired they moved along pretty easily.

5 Miles

5 easy miles with strides thrown in at the end. Aside from the heat I’d say it went pretty great.

You may have noticed my training plan has at least one day a week where it calls for strides at the end of an easy run.

 

What are strides?

Strides are usually done before races or runs but can also be fit in near the end as well. They are usually quick pick ups that help to get your legs turning over more quickly.

You will see them done often in track practices and by elite runners, but many runners never do them even though they have really great benefits to your run and performance.

Usually a stride lasts anywhere from  50 to 200 meters and are done very quickly. You don’t want to go all out on a stride but instead they would be done at a “comfortable quick” pace. That is the best way I can think to describe it. You want to finish tired but not completely burn out.

 

Why are they important?

Strides are most commonly used after:

  • An easy run – to help increase your leg turnover and keep your legs used to moving quickly while also helping to work on your form.
  • Before a race or hard workout – to help prepare your legs and body to get ready to race. They allow your legs to get warmed up.

Strides have also been shown to:

  • Improve leg turnover
  • Improve form and flexibility
  • Increase your speed
  • A great transition to faster workouts
  • Warm up your leg muscles

Strides are something that can be incorporated into your runs several times a week and are over very quickly. Right now I am only doing them on one easy day a week, but they keep my legs used to going quicker in between my hard workout days.

 

How do you do strides?

You can do strides virtually anywhere. You can do them on the road, treadmill or even on a grassy field. If I can I try and find a field or non-paved surface to do mine on when outside. This just cuts down on some of the pounding.

I don’t map out a certain distance I just go out and run hard from point A to point B. After I do that I jog around until recovered and then go again. I usually do anywhere from 4-6 strides at the end of my easy run.

Grassy Field

This is the field behind our house where I like to do my strides.

You can also do strides as a workout. They are best for those just getting into speed work or coming back from injury because they are quick and simple.

 

On a side note, I got Racing Weight by Matt Fitzgerald in the mail yesterday. I am so excited to dive into it!

Racing Weight

I love finding new books and learning new information. The fact that this comes from an athlete’s perspective also really intrigues me. I will be back with a full review once I am finished!

 

Have you ever done strides?

Tell me about your workouts so far this week.

About Sara

Welcome to my blog! My name is Sara and this blog documents my journey as a wife and a runner. I train hard and put my heart and soul into my running. My life is a crazy journey full of ups and downs, and I am here to share it all with you!

27 comments

  1. How funny, I literally just did a post this morning of the same thing!!! Great minds think alike huh? Although mine is a bit more awkward as I had videos of me running strides…..which is kind of strange to watch haha!

  2. I like to do strides at the end of a run to pick up the pace. It’s good practice for finishing strong during a race.

  3. Yes! Strides are definitely part of a good running plan! Many coaches I know will have their runners do strides after every run!

    • Yep! I don’t do them after every run but I like to add them to the end of my easy runs and have done them at the end of a few workouts in the past.

  4. I need to check out this book!

    I did stride outs after my easy runs when training for my first marathon. I need to start doing them again!

  5. I usually do them on the last stretch of a run because finishing fast feels good! Interesting book title…what do you hope to learn from it?

  6. love doing strides..and it makes me feel super fast for like 2 seconds :) I need to get that book as well, it looks very interesting!

  7. In college we used to do strides all the time – after easy runs and before workouts/races. I just recently started doing them again and have been kicking myself for ever stopping in the first place!

    That looks like a really interesting book, that’s a topic that I’ve always been really interested in learning more about. Can’t wait to hear what you think!

  8. I just purchased this book too! It is good so far!

  9. The Silent Assassin

    Yes, strides are a must… Always do them after track sesh. So far 6 miles tempo on sunday. Hill repeats last night. Fartlek tomorrow and then a long run this weekend in prep for RnRSD. M, W, and Fr are bootcamp strength training. Thanks for sharing!!!

  10. My running club always does strides on grass after our speed work. Except that we were all too hot yesterday and ran back right after workout.

  11. Thanks for posting about strides! I don’t consider myself an elite runner but I found this to be very helpful!

    My workouts so far this week consisted of spin class, running on the treadmill, and weight lifting!

  12. Interesting stuff – how are you enjoying the book? I am reading his ‘Diet Cults’ that just came out, and it is very interesting – I find much of what he says is very true about how people look to the ‘one true way’ in terms of diets, supplements, training and so on.

    • So far I really like the book! I am only a few chapters in! I have heard of that book – hoping to read that in the future as well!

      • Great, thanks – I have it on (Running Weight) on my Kindle Wish List … and will review Diet Cults when done with that!

        Oh – and great job with the strides, I have been seeing that written up a lot lately, really have to give them a try!

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