Strides: What, How, and Why for Runners - Live Slow Run Far

Strides: What, How, and Why for Runners

If you’ve been coached by us or have been following our training philosophies for a while, you might have noticed our enthusiasm for incorporating strides into running training, regardless of whether you’re just starting out or you’re at the elite level. Strides, though often overlooked and misunderstood, are a simple yet powerful tool in a runner’s arsenal. But what are strides, exactly? How do you do them, and why should you incorporate them into your training?

Technically, strides are just a very short interval workout, but more casual, fun, and always paired with an easy run. They really help in streamlining your running mechanics and running form, and act as a nice speed tune up. They’re also great at providing a sense of a good, productive workout without causing any real wear and tear on your body. In short, they are an easy and quick way to improve your speed and running economy. 

So, how exactly do you perform strides?

You want to run hard for 20 or 30 seconds, then slowly jog your way back to where you started, repeating 4 to 8 times. This is not an all out sprint, but fast and controlled running. Focus on maximizing power and good form here, where you really push off with your legs, land with your foot directly below your center of gravity, and maintain strong but controlled arm movements.

It’s beneficial to do this on a slight uphill. Pick a hill that isn’t too steep, somewhere around 5-10% grade, which is 5-10 meters of gain over 100 meters run. The surface should be very runnable, so it’s best to avoid trails. 

We recommend incorporating strides into your routine once or – preferably – twice a week, in the middle or towards the end of a regular easy run. Avoid doing strides on long run days and days with any other hard effort running. If you’re just starting out with strides or faster running at all, start with 20 seconds and 4 repetitions once a week, and work your way up from there.

To give you an idea of how to incorporate strides into a training week, here’s a sample schedule for an intermediate runner comfortable with running 60-70 km per week:

Monday: Rest day

Tuesday: 12 km easy run w/ 6x 20 sec strides

Wednesday: 10 km tempo run

Thursday: Rest day

Friday: 10 km interval workout

Saturday: 25 km long run

Sunday: 15 km easy run w/ 4x 30 sec strides

Run your strides, keeping in mind what we’ve just discussed, and end your session feeling strong and capable, and perhaps a little bit faster than before. 

If you haven’t yet embraced strides in your training, we challenge you to try them for a month. Incorporate them twice a week during an easy run, experimenting with different variations of 4-8 repetitions for 20-30 seconds. Let us know how it goes!


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