Cross Training For Runners

Unlock Speed & Agility: How to Incorporate Strides into Your Running Routine

8 Mins read

If you’re a beginner looking to delve into the world of running strides, you’ve come to the right place.

Running strides can be a valuable addition to your training routine.

They introduce your body to faster paces and speedwork, help you prepare for challenging sessions, and allow you to loosen up after easy workouts. In essence, by incorporating strides into your running routine, you’ll be taking significant steps toward achieving your running goals.

So, what exactly are running strides, and why are they important? In this post, we’ll answer these questions and guide you on how to integrate strides effectively into your weekly running regimen. Let’s dive in and get started.

What are Strides in Running?

Whether you’re a 10K beginner, cross country athlete, or training for the 9th marathon, strides are key for building coordination and speed—the kind you need to reach your full running potential.

Strides, also referred to as accelerations, are a valuable tool in a runner’s training regimen, regardless of their experience level. These short bursts of speed can help you build coordination, increase speed, and enhance your overall running performance.

Strides are brief, controlled bursts of speed during a run. They typically involve transitioning from a relaxed jog to nearly 95 percent of your maximum speed and then gradually decelerating to a stop. The goal is to run smoothly, focusing on good form and controlled effort.

Purpose of Strides:

Strides serve several purposes in a runner’s training routine:

  • Speed Development: Strides help improve your top-end speed, which can be beneficial for finishing races strongly or achieving personal records.
  • Running Mechanics: During strides, you can concentrate on your running form, ensuring that you maintain proper posture, arm movement, and foot placement.
  • Coordination: Strides enhance your neuromuscular coordination by requiring precise control over your running motion.
  • Anaerobic Capacity: These short, intense efforts engage your anaerobic energy system, improving your body’s ability to handle faster paces.

Why Do I Need To Do Running Strides?

Running strides, those brief and speedy bursts during your workout, offer a multitude of advantages that can significantly boost your running performance. Let’s dive into why you need to incorporate them into your training regimen:

  1. Speed Enhancement:

Strides provide a convenient way to introduce speed work into your training routine without dedicating an entire day to high-intensity workouts.

They help you acclimate your body to running at a faster pace, preparing you for hard training sessions or races.

  1. Improved Running Technique:

Strides are an effective tool for refining your running form and enhancing your running economy. By reinforcing proper running techniques, they make you more efficient.

They encourage a focus on aspects like posture, arm movement, and foot placement, promoting better running mechanics.

Strides can also increase your stride length, further improving your running mechanics and speed.

  1. Time-Efficient:

Perhaps one of the most appealing aspects of strides is their time efficiency. You can reap significant benefits in just a few minutes.

Strides can be seamlessly integrated into your training, whether it’s after an easy run as post-run drills or as part of a structured workout.

  1. Versatile Location:

Strides don’t require a specialized location. You can perform them virtually anywhere as long as you have enough space to accelerate and decelerate safely.

Whether it’s a track, a grassy field, or a quiet road, you can easily incorporate strides into your training terrain.

  1. Mental Focus:

Strides demand a high level of concentration and control, which can sharpen your mental focus and resilience.

Mastering the art of striding with precision can translate to improved race performances, as you’ll be better equipped to maintain your form during the toughest moments of a race.

Additional source – Here’s the full guide to average stride length.

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How To Perform Running Strides

Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to execute them effectively:

  1. Choose Your Terrain:

Find a flat, straight surface that’s long enough to sustain a 30-second burst of speed. A typical range is about 250 to 300 feet, but adjust as needed based on your fitness level.

Ideal locations include tracks, long stretches in local parks, or quiet dead-end streets away from traffic.

  1. Start Gradually:

Begin the stride by running at an easy pace for approximately five seconds. Focus on maintaining a quick and short stride during this initial phase.

  1. Accelerate Smoothly:

Gradually increase your speed as you progress through the stride. Lengthen your stride and put in more effort.

By the time you reach the three-quarter mark of your chosen distance, you should be running at close to your maximum speed.

  1. Decelerate Gradually:

As you near the end of your chosen distance, start to slow down. Shorten your strides and ease into a gentle deceleration.

Avoid abrupt stops, as these can strain your muscles and disrupt your form.

  1. Transition to a Jog:

After completing the stride, transition smoothly into a slow jog. This phase helps in recovery and gradually brings your heart rate down.

  1. Post-Stride Walk:

Walk for one to two minutes after your stride to facilitate recovery and allow your heart rate to return to a comfortable level.

  1. Repeat as Desired:

You can incorporate multiple strides into your workout routine, with each one separated by a short recovery period.

The number of repetitions and the frequency of strides depend on your fitness goals and the specifics of your training plan..

Strides – The Running Technique

When it comes to running strides, having the right form is crucial to maximize their effectiveness and minimize the risk of injury. Here’s a breakdown of the key elements to focus on:

Posture Is Paramount:

Maintain an upright, tall posture throughout your stride. Keep your back flat and your core engaged.

Slightly lean forward from the ankles, creating a subtle forward tilt. This helps you harness the force of gravity for propulsion.

Embrace Relaxation:

Strides should feel effortless and fluid. Avoid tensing up any part of your body.

Unclench your jaw, let your cheeks dangle, and relax your facial muscles. Facial tension can sometimes translate into bodily tension.

Loosen Up:

Keep your body relaxed and free from tension. Ensure your arms, shoulders, and neck are loose.

Let your arms swing naturally at your sides. Avoid overextending or flailing them, as this can waste energy.

Short, Quick Strides:

Keep your strides short and quick to minimize overstriding.

Land Lightly:

Aim to land on your midfoot, closer to your toes, rather than striking with your heel. This promotes a more efficient stride.

A light, controlled landing reduces the risk of jarring impact on your joints and muscles.

Focus on Breath:

Pay attention to your breathing rhythm. Maintain a steady and controlled breath pattern.

Sync your breathing with your stride to ensure a smooth flow of oxygen to your muscles.

Additional resource – Bolt top running speed

When and How Many Running Strides For Beginners

Running strides can be integrated into your workout routine in various ways, each offering unique benefits:

  • Warm-up: Strides can be used as part of your warm-up routine. They help elevate your heart rate, increase blood flow to your running muscles, and mentally prepare you for the upcoming run, all of which contribute to improved performance.
  • Weekly Runs: Incorporate strides into your weekly runs, particularly during easy runs or as part of your speed workout. This allows you to practice speed and form in a controlled manner while breaking up the monotony of long, steady runs.

To maximize the benefits of strides, try adding them to your routine for a few weeks and assess how they impact your running. As a general guideline, aim to perform strides two times a week, with each session consisting of 4 to 8 strides, each lasting approximately 20 to 30 seconds.

Additional Resource – Here’s your guide to cross-country running

Do A Variety Of Strides

While we’ve covered the fundamentals of running strides, it’s essential to recognize that there’s more to this valuable training tool than meets the eye. F

or beginners and seasoned runners alike, delving into different types of strides can provide a more comprehensive understanding of how to incorporate them effectively into your training regimen.

Downhill Strides:

  • Purpose: Downhill strides involve running at a faster pace while descending a gentle slope. They are excellent for building speed, coordination, and leg turnover.
  • Benefits: Downhill strides challenge your body in a unique way by emphasizing eccentric muscle contractions, which can enhance strength and stability. They are particularly useful for downhill sections in races.
  • Technique: When doing downhill strides, focus on maintaining control and balance. Keep your strides short and quick to avoid overstriding, which can lead to injury.

Uphill Strides:

  • Purpose: Uphill strides involve running at an increased effort level while ascending a hill. They improve strength, power, and cardiovascular fitness.
  • Benefits: Uphill strides target your quadriceps, glutes, and calf muscles, helping to build strength and endurance for hillier courses. They also improve your aerobic capacity.
  • Technique: When tackling uphill strides, maintain an upright posture and focus on driving your knees and arms to generate power. Shorten your stride and take quicker steps.

Strides on a Track:

  • Purpose: Utilizing a standard 400-meter track can be an excellent way to measure your strides accurately and gauge your progress over time.
  • Benefits: Strides on a track allow you to fine-tune your pacing and get a better sense of your speed improvements. They are a fantastic addition to your speed workout routine.
  • Technique: Run one stride along the straight section of the track and recover by jogging or walking around the curve. Repeat this process for several laps.

Progressive Strides:

  • Purpose: Progressive strides involve gradually increasing your speed within each stride. They are effective for teaching your body to transition smoothly from easy to hard efforts.
  • Benefits: Progressive strides mimic race scenarios where you start at a comfortable pace and progressively increase your effort. They improve your ability to handle pace changes during a race.
  • Technique: Start each stride at a slower pace, and then pick up the speed as you go along. The last few seconds of the stride should be at close to maximum effort.

Strides with Form Focus:

  • Purpose: These strides emphasize running with impeccable form. They can be integrated into your regular runs to reinforce proper technique.
  • Benefits: Strides with form focus help engrain good running habits and make you more conscious of your technique during races and workouts.
  • Technique: Concentrate on specific aspects of your form during these strides, such as arm swing, posture, or foot placement.

Progressing Your Running Strides:

As a beginner, incorporating running strides into your training routine is an excellent way to improve your speed, running form, and overall performance.

Although strides have a lot to offer, it’s also key to follow a structured progression plan to ensure continued growth and prevent plateaus.

Here’s how you can progress your stride workouts effectively:

  1. Frequency:

Start with one stride workout per week: When you’re just beginning, one session of strides per week is sufficient. This allows your body to adapt gradually to the increased intensity.

Progress to two sessions per week: After a few weeks of consistent strides, consider adding a second session. Ideally, space these sessions a few days apart to allow for recovery.

  1. Intensity:

Begin with moderate intensity: Initially, focus on strides that are around 80-90% of your maximum speed. This moderate intensity helps your body adapt to the demands of faster running.

Increase intensity gradually: As you become more comfortable with strides, start incorporating faster bursts, reaching closer to 95-100% of your maximum speed. This higher intensity can further improve your speed and running economy.

  1. Duration:

Start with shorter strides: Initially, aim for 20-30 second strides. This duration allows you to focus on form and get used to the feeling of running at higher speeds.

Extend stride duration: Over time, consider gradually increasing the duration of your strides. You can work your way up to 40-60 second strides, but maintain a strong focus on maintaining proper form throughout.

  1. Recovery:

Shorten recovery periods: In the early stages, take longer recovery periods between strides to allow for adequate rest. A 1-2 minute recovery between strides is a good starting point.

Reduce recovery time: As you progress, work on reducing the recovery time between strides. Aim for 45 seconds to 1 minute of recovery between each stride.

  1. Total Volume:

Start with a lower volume: When you begin, limit the number of strides in each workout. Four to six strides per session can be a suitable starting point.

Gradually increase stride volume: As your fitness and comfort with strides improve, you can gradually increase the number of strides in a single session. Aim for 8-10 strides or more, depending on your goals.

  1. Incorporate Variety:

Experiment with different types of strides: As you become more experienced, consider incorporating variations like downhill strides, uphill strides, or diagonal strides. These variations challenge different aspects of your running performance.

Running Strides for Beginners – Conclusion

There you have it.

That’s all you need to know about running strides for beginners.  These are easy to implement and can help you achieve great progress toward your running goals.

The rest is just details.

Please feel free to leave your comments and questions in the section below.

In the meantime, thank you for dropping by.

Keep running strong.

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