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Running Strides – why and how to actually do them

What are running strides?

Stride is basically a short period of fast running for about 15-30 seconds or measured by distance, usually around 100m. Your pace could have a variety of ranges based on your discipline, but generally, the idea is to make your legs move fast, whatever that fast means for you and your current level of fitness.

What are the benefits of running strides?

Strides are very beneficial regardless of your event or level of experience as a runner. They promote your efficiency while you run, and they can improve your speed as well. In addition, they help you keep your ‘fast legs’ while you train for longer distances as 10k, half-marathon, marathon, or even ultras.
For example, many marathoners in Kenya do their strides immediately after a long run or easy day to keep their speed at a reasonable level while often doing workouts at a marathon pace.
Strides are also great to incorporate speed into your body again after a break.  They can also help you correct your form and help you develop a turnover. Moreover, doing strides before fast intervals or tempos makes them feel much more comfortable because your body has time to adapt. The same goes before a race.

How to include running strides in our routine

When we warm up

When you are warming up for any type of running, you can, and I also suggest to do some strides. In this case, you want to do between 10 to 25 min of easy running, do some stretching, drills and move on to strides.  Mostly, runners do between 3 to 6 strides to move their legs and help them transit to a faster pace. Always start with an easier one and try to do each one a bit faster. Still, it shouldn’t feel like a sprint unless you are a 400m to 800m runner.

After an easy day

Easy days are meant to help you recover. They are your bridge between your main workouts, where your body tries to absorb the work and adapt to it. However, since you often have a hard one after an easy day, it is a good idea to make some faster strides to prepare your body for what is about to come the next day. Keep your strides at a reasonable pace close to what you expect to run the next day or a bit slower if that feels uncomfortable for the day. The idea is only to shake your legs a little bit after the easy effort.

After a long run

The long run is hard for your body. You spend more time on the ground, and this makes you feel tired and heavy. After a long run, you often feel like you cannot do anything fast. But you will feel much better the next day if you make your body move with some strides. It will reduce the stiffness that often comes after spending more than two hours running. In this case, try to do 4 to 6 strides for 15s, and you will see the benefits.

Before a workout /race

The beginning of your workout or a race almost always feels tough, or at least at discomfort. This is because it takes a while for your body to ‘warm up’ and work at a faster speed. Strides can help you remove this discomfort and aid your body to get into the pace easier. Before a workout/ race, I suggest you start with longer strides, like 30ish seconds, and then finish with shorter (and faster ones) close to 15seconds. In this way, you will slowly introduce the pace you want to run, and by the time you are done with the strides, you will be absolutely ready to go and crush it.

As a routine pre-race

My favorite pre-race routine includes doing strides the day before the race. It helps me get the nerves down and also prepares me to run fast the next day.

As a separate workout

Especially coming off a long break, strides can be done as a separate workout to introduce speed to your body again. They are an excellent choice before you start your serious build-up. Start by adding strides after your easy days, and then do them as a separate workout. You can warm up 10 to 20 minutes and do up to 10 strides at a speed that feels quick but comfortable.
Doing strides can really make a difference! You can literally include them in so many ways and enjoy what they do for you and your fitness!

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