We are all guilty of it.  Jargon seeps into your conversation no matter who you are or what you do and runners probably do it more than many.  LSR, tempo, threshold pace, PMP – there seems to be no end to the fancy terms that we all drop into our conversations about running.  So I want to try and cover some of the common training terms in a series of articles and we are going to start with Strides.  With what’s?  Let Andrew McDonagh explain all…

What are strides?

Strides are short (less than 200m) bursts of faster running.  The intention when you are doing strides is that you should not be running flat out or sprinting.  Instead you should be at 70 – 80% effort, running fast but not hard.  Concentrate hard on proper running form – leg turn over, head up, torso strong, good arm swing and feel the full stride through from contact to push off.

 

Why should I do them?

Strides are a speed drill that serve a number of important functions.  They help build leg speed, they re-enforce good running form and they help develop good running economy.   They are a gentle but effective form of speed work.

When should I do them?

There are a couple of different ways of incorporating strides into your sessions.  You can do a “formal” set of strides, after a standard run you do a set of between 50 and 200m with easy jog recoveries between.  Take time to recover and remember that the strides themselves shouldn’t be at maximum effort.

The other way is to incorporate strides as part of a fartlek session – during a standard session incorporate sets of strides, just one or two per mile, of varying lengths (again never more than 200m).  After the strides slow back down and run easy to recover.  It’s a good way of breaking a dull run up and easing back into speed-work at the beginning of a training cycle.

Lastly strides are also a great warm up before a race, a few short gentle strides will prepare your muscles for the race ahead without burning up those valuable energy stores.

Who should do them?

All road runners really!  Faster runners or those covering shorter distances can use strides as part of a broader set of speed drills to warm up and build speed.  Those racing longer distances will benefit from the gains in running form – I found them to have been a huge help when I began to tire in my last marathon, by concentrating on my form I was able to maintain my pace even in the closing stages and the good form had been imprinted in weekly stride sessions.  Lastly if you are a mid to back packer who thinks that speed work isn’t for you then strides are a great easy introduction to that black art!

 

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