Q: What are strides? How do I incorporate them into my training?
A: Strides are essentially 20-25 second accelerations that can be built into every run/workout you complete. These runs are intended to be short on actual distance covered so they don't deplete too much of your energy and can have great benefit in assisting you in warming up or reminding your legs what "fast" feels like.
My favorite time to incorporate strides is before a speed workout or after a casual paced run where I may not have had much change in the pace. Keep in mind with strides the intention is to start slower and build to about 95% of your max speed and then slow to a stop. Jogging or walking in between is recommended. An important tip is to stay as relaxed as possible, you should not feel tight or tense while completing strides. I generally recommended anywhere between 4 and 8 depending on your current running fitness level and experience. The best thing about strides is they only take a few minutes and the pay off is significant. Strides assist in reminding your body what proper running economy and form feels like and can be beneficial in developing lower leg strength, all key in becoming an overall stronger and better runner.
You can do strides anywhere really but my favorite two places are on the track and even barefoot on a grass field or turf. Incorporating strides into your routine, beginning with 4-5 for newbies, is sure to have you feeling fast, strong and properly warmed up in no time.
Kari Smith is a private running coach, certified personal trainer, and is the co-founder of Philly Surge Running. Kari's coaching philosophy is rooted in teaching her athletes how to balance the stress-recovery equation and specializes in helping runners of all abilities achieve consistent, progressive results towards their running goals. Kari currently works with runners online and at the track leading group speed session with PhillySurgeRunning.com