Run faster and improve your form: How to run strides

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You may have come across the term ‘strides’ in your training plan. Unless you’ve done these before, you may be wondering how to run strides as part of your run. 

Improving your speed, like improving your strength, is key to running stronger for longer. And strides are a great way to gently introduce yourself to speed training.

Speed training can take many forms of running, including interval training, tempo running and Fartlek training.

This type of training is so important for runners because it gets you used to running at different speeds and paces. This in turn makes you a stronger and more powerful runner.

The more comfortable you become running at an accelerated speed, the more likely you are to be able to run at a faster, sustained pace during your long runs. 

Strides also get you used to running at different stride lengths. 

There is consistent evidence that shows an increased stride rate results in decreased ground reaction force, shock attenuation and energy absorbed at the hip, knee and ankle joint when running. 

What this means in practical terms is that an increased stride length is more likely to help you avoid some of those common running injuries normally associated with a long stride length. 

In this blog post, I’d like to explain the key concepts behind strides and how to run strides as part of your weekly training plan.

If you feel strides could be beneficial to you in your training plan, then give them a go today!

how to run strides

What are strides?

Strides (or ‘striders’) are short bursts of running at an accelerated speed. You may be wondering how you can fit strides into your training plan.

Start with a jog, build to about 95% of your maximum speed, then gradually slow to a stop. 

One stride should take you about 25-30 seconds depending on your running ability. 

They are easy to include in your weekly routine as they can be done before a run as a warm up, in the middle of a run, or after an easy run to work on form.

Strides are also a great form of speed training for new runners. 

Why are strides beneficial?

There are many benefits to running strides – they really are a great all round workout when it comes to running.

One of the biggest benefits is that strides get you used to speed training as a beginner runner.

When you start running, the thought of interval training, tempo running or Fartlek training may sound a bit daunting. 

Strides, on the other hand, are simple and easy to perform before or after your run. 

One of the main aims of strides is to improve your running form and economy. As such, strides are great at reinforcing proper running mechanics. 

Another great benefit of running strides is that they mentally and physically prepare you to run fast before a race.

And if you’re short on time, strides only take a few minutes as part of your run or as a standalone activity.

how to run strides
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How to run strides

Start by running easy then gradually increase your speed until you’re at 95% of your maximum speed. 

Once you’ve run three quarters of the distance, start to slow down by shortening your stride until you come to a gentle jog then walk. 

Your stride length should go from short, quick strides at the start to long strides whilst you’re running fast, then back to short, quick strides. 

A stride should feel like a controlled pace rather than a full on sprint. Throughout all of this, really focus on your form. Check out my post on how to improve running form for more info.

Make sure you keep your chest high and shoulders relaxed. Make sure you have proper arm swing during your easy run and accelerated run. 

Once you’ve finished the stride, walk back to the starting point and use this time to recover and catch your breath. 

Alternatively, wait on the spot then turn around and run the stride again. 

How to include strides in your training plan

If you’re a beginner runner, then I suggest you start off by including at least four strides in your training plan each week. 

These could either be as a standalone activity or included before or after your run. Just be sure to do them before an easy run if you’re just starting out. 

Once you’ve done about 3 to 4 weeks of these, then it’s time to increase to at least six strides. 

Remember to take a break in between each stride. I recommend you take a minute or two to catch your breath and get yourself ready for the next stride.

Strides can form part of your training plan whether you’re running a 5k or marathon – they are really flexible and adaptable for all distances.

Check out my blog on how to run for your first 5k for more tips on completing your first 5k. 

how to run strides

How to run strides on a treadmill

Running strides on a treadmill is slightly different than running them outdoors. The good news is that strides can be done indoors and outdoors.

As with outdoors strides, start off by including at least four strides in your training plan each week then gradually increase this to at least six per week.

I recommend you fit strides in after your run on the treadmill. 

Use the speed programme to increase your pace quickly until you are sprinting for roughly 2-3 seconds and then quickly decrease your pace. 

Your slow pace after the stride should be 10-30 seconds slower than your easy running pace to recover. 

Continue this easy pace for about 1-2 minutes before doing the next stride.

Running on a treadmill can be quite daunting if you’re not used to it. So be sure to clue yourself up on the treadmill itself and its safety features before attempting any sort of speed workout. 

Caroline Geoghegan

Caroline Geoghegan (aka Run With Caroline) helps people become faster and stronger runners. She started her blog in 2018 to share her passion for running. Caroline is a UK Athletics qualified Run Leader and Run Coach and NASM qualified Personal Trainer.

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