What Are Strides?

This running drill can help improve your speed and stamina

Strides are a running drill in which you accelerate to about 95% of your maximum speed for 60 to 100 meters. One stride should take about 20 to 30 seconds and you should start by gradually accelerating to the maximum speed and spend the final few meters decelerating to a slow stop.

Strides are typically performed before speed workouts or races in order to prepare the body for fast-paced running, but they can also be incorporated after easy, moderate-paced workouts to help loosen up tight muscles, improve range of motion and develop your form.

The distance of your strides should correlate to your goals (if you’re performing them while training) or the type of race you’re running (if you’re performing them before an event). For example, if you’re getting ready to run a 5K it would make more sense to warm-up with shorter strides at a faster rate, where as if you’re about to run a marathon, longer strides at a slower rate will be more beneficial.

You can perform strides on a flat surface that leaves enough space for you to cover 60 to 100 meters in a straight line, however, a smooth dirt trail or soft length of grass would be most ideal. If you’re performing strides for the first time it’s a good idea to start on a track where you can accurately measure the distance.

While practicing on the track Runner’s World suggests that you count each of your footstrikes over the entire 100 meters (or whatever distance you choose) so that you can use that number as a gauge for the right distance when you perform your strides elsewhere.

Keep in mind that only about one third of a stride should be performed at 95% of your max effort, the other two thirds should be devoted to gradually accelerating and decelerating. One technique that you can use to make sure that you’re performing strides correctly is to divide your total number of footstrikes into three so that the first third are spent accelerating, the second third are spent at 95% of your max effort and the final third are spent decelerating.

“As long as you’re not going 100% and staying in control, you’re probably doing them correctly,” Jason Fitzgerald wrote to one of his readers who asked about proper stride from on his website StrengthRunning.com

He also notes:

“Keep in mind that strides are very short and you’re only running really fast for a few seconds, so they shouldn’t be too difficult. Always remember to stay relaxed during a stride – at no point should you be straining or racing.”

It’s important to remember that strides are a drill and not an aerobic workout which is why you should leave 60 to 90 seconds of recovery time between each stride. While recovering you can walk slowly or stand still.

When first adding strides to your routine start by performing just three or four. After three weeks of regularly incorporating them into your routine, you can increase to five or six. 

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