Ask Mario: What Are Strides?

Q.

Mario,

I see “strides” or “striders” included in many training programs, but what the heck are they exactly? Thanks!

John. H

A.

Hey John,

This is a good question and one I get often. For runners who are new to following a structured training program or trying different types of workouts for the first time, I can understand the confusion regarding strides (or striders, as they are also referred to by some).

Strides or striders are an easy and effective way to fire up the fast-twitch muscle fibers to help you power you through races and speed workouts. They also serve as a good speed maintenance session between faster workouts, especially for high-volume runners training for longer races.

In short, strides are 15-20-second accelerations performed at a fairly fast pace. Following a few of your weekly easy runs, find a flat stretch of road that’s roughly 100 meters long. Accelerate for 5 seconds, spend the next 5-10 seconds at near-top speed, and then gradually decelerate to a jog over the final 5 seconds. Catch your breath for a minute or so, and then go again. It’s important to recognize that these aren’t all-out sprints but rather short accelerations that promote running relaxed with fluid form: Get up on your forefoot, lift your knees, and focus on running with a fast cadence while covering ground quickly and comfortably.

I recommend that runners do a set of 4–6 strides 2–3 times a week after easy runs, as well as making them an essential part of your warm-up routine for speed workouts and races. For example, before a key workout of race, jog easily for 10-20 minutes and then perform a set of 4-6 strides a few minutes before you get going as a way to prime your legs for the prolonged faster running you’re about to do.

Hope this helps clear up any confusion!

Mario

Ask Mario appears monthly in Competitor magazine and weekly on Competitor.com. Have a question for Mario? Submit it here.

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