If you've had the misfortune (😂) to join one of our regular Thursday night interval sessions with Dirtbag Runners Bow Valley, you've likely heard me barking out "Let's do a few strides before we get going on the workout"
Typically after an easy jog to wherever the main set is going to take place, we'll do some 15-20 second accelerations, stop, catch our breaths, then repeat for 3 or 4 more before we jump into the main workout-du-jour. These are "Strides".
Strides are also known as striders, stride-outs, or accelerations.
They’re accelerations where we start out at a jog, then quickly build to about 95% of max speed, and then gradually slow to a stop. One stride will take about 15 - 30 seconds. We will typicall take about 60-90 seconds of walking or standing in between each stride to catch our breath.
Running strides is not an aerobic workout so they shouldn't be rushed – you get zero additional benefit by shortening the recovery period! Strides are best thought of as a speed development tool. The goal is not aerobic development, endurance, or getting in “a good workout.” Rather, it’s about leg turnover and building comfort at higher speeds. They are too short to be fatiguing, but are great at getting you warmed up for a harder effort, or for 'learning' how it feels to run fast.
There are 2 occasions I like to utilise strides.
Firstly, after an easy run. In this scenario, think of them as a dynamic stretch. They help increase your range of motion, work on your turnover, and subtly improve your form. By shaking out some of the tightness you might feel after miles of running at the same pace, strides can help you feel better for your next run.
Secondly, strides are useful immediately before a workout or race. Here, strides prepare your body to run fast. They serve as your transition to sustained, harder running. They warm you up and get you revved up to go.