Want to have faster leg speed? Want to run faster overall? Training for a 5k? 10k? half marathon? Marathon? well, then you should be doing some strides.
Strides are a running workout where you accelerate to your sprint/1 mile race pace and run 60-100 meters and then slow back down again to recover. Typically they are done in sets of 5-10, and they are most beneficial when you fully recover between each one, jogging or even walking for at least a minute.
I always do them at the end of my Monday easy runs, but they can be slotted in just about anywhere. I have used strides to warm up for a 5k race, to get my legs moving in the middle of an long distance run, and even at the track (which I will go into a bit later). I have even added a little flavor to routes that have gotten a bit stale for me by telling myself I will do a stride up any hill I come to.
Sometimes I break down the 5 strides in my mind: I focus on form in the first one, I try to get more steps per minute in the second one, I think about my head and back positioning in the third one, I focus on arm swing in the fourth one and so on.
If you get some strides in at the end of your weekly runs, especially your easy runs, you will have better form at the end of your race and more explosive power to get across the finish line. Coaches often say that strides develop fast twitch muscles and coordination, helping you feel more relaxed when running fast.
Greg McMillan refers to strides as “The Best Workout You Have Never Heard Of”. Well, not that you HAVE heard of it, check out his how-to video:
For a chance of pace during a track workout or towards the beginning or end of one, incorporate a stride workouts by jogging/easy running or even walking the curves of the track while sprinting the straights. This can also be a way to help your body become use to the 100 meter stride before trying it on an unmarked road at the end of your easy runs.