So now you’re running at conversation pace, but how do you add in faster running? Strides!
Once you’re consistently running, add in strides once or twice a week. Strides are short bursts (about 100 meters) of fast running. They are a fun and easy way to teach your body to run fast on command.
Strides: The Gentle Way to Add Speed
- Start at conversation pace
- Gracefully increase speed until you are running at about 85-95% max speed (slower if you’re just starting strides)
- Keep that top speed for a few seconds
- Gracefully decrease speed until conversation pace the last few steps
- Stand, walk, or lightly jog until completely recovered
The above is “1 stride” which takes about 80-150 meters. The exact distance does not matter, only the progression. Stay controlled – don’t let body parts flail. Stay relaxed – try smiling.
Strides are fast running, but they aren’t hard running. Don’t tense up when you do strides. Don’t grit your teeth or clench your jaw. Run light and smoothly.
Let your heart rate slow and catch your breath in between. There is no benefit to starting another stride before you are completely recovered.
How to Add Strides to Your Routine
- Add strides to 1-3 days of your week
- Start with 3-4 strides and work your way up to 6-8 strides
- Do strides at the end of your run to practice running fast at the end of a workout
- If already doing speedwork, add to your warm-up to get your legs spinning
Benefits of Strides
- Gently introduces speed to your week
- Allows you to practice smooth, relaxed cadence
- Promotes good running form
- Teaches you control at high speeds
- Stretches stale legs
- Makes you feel good, even after an average or lousy run
As a long distance runner, my legs start to feel flat after all of the miles. A few strides can leave me feeling long and lean. And a few more can make me feel not so far away from a decent 5K race.
Strides are versatile – benefiting any running routine. Besides adding them to your easy runs, they are a great warm-up for an intense speedwork session or as a tune-up before racing.
P.S. – If you are trying to include some barefoot running, strides on grass are a great time to do that.
Strides may seem like a small thing, but they can really make a difference in your running and racing. Not only are they good for you, but they’re also fun to do.