How to Use Strides to Run Faster

Today I would like to focus on one of the nemeses (yep, I really did just use Merriam- Webster to make sure that was the plural of the word) of marathon training; strides.

In college, I loved doing strides.

Okay, love may be a little strong, but I used to feel powerful and fast striding up and down the turf, mostly thanks to the other speed work that complemented my 5k/10k training.

Strides gave me a pop in my step, which always led to a fast last lap to surprise even myself as I crossed the finish line.

However, now I am slow…well, slow compared to 4:45 mile speed in college, lacking the kick I had in the “good old days”.

Now, strides hurt.

They feel awkward, and all my muscles scream out in discomfort as they wonder why they could suddenly be expected to move so fast after over an hour of going a comfortable pace?

Whatever distance you are training for, be it 5k, 10k, half marathon or marathon training, strides should become an essential part of your routine before every workout, and another 2-3 times after recovery runs.

In case I am not enough motivation for you, American Record Holder Molly Huddle runs 6 strides after every recovery run, “I’ll try to focus on knee lift and getting a quicker and lighter turnover than during the easy run”.

Running Times also backs her up stating that strides allow you to improve coordination between the nervous system and the muscles.

What is a stride and what does a good one look like?

Within 5-10 minutes of finishing your easy/recovery runs, you should find a flat stretch of road or track around 100m long where you can run for 15-20 seconds. A track is ideal, as you can measure out the distance.

Running significantly faster than you have been for the rest of your run, but not all out, you should open up your running stride, pumping your arms, and focusing on your form.

You should get up to 80-85% of your maximum speed by the middle of the stride, before slowing down again.

It may feel a little uncomfortable at first, and I usually notice my hamstrings do not enjoy the first few.Β It will get better!

Give yourself 30-90 seconds recovery before doing a stride back.

Complete 4-6 strides, and then follow your usual post run routine.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jf78F7jq52M]

And here is another one coming back

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qvZgThwBP9U]

Running strides after recovery runs will help your body to get used to a different speed, so you can not only finish a race faster, but your body is better prepared to handle pace changes during a race.

How to use strides before workouts

Strides should also be completed before a workout to fire up your fast twitch muscles to simulate a race as you run race/workout pace for a few seconds.

If 6 x 20 seconds is too many, try doing just 2- 4 of shorterΒ 10-15 secondΒ strides. I usually do 4; then give myself 2-3 minutes for my heart rate to come down a little, before starting the workout.

The start of a race is always fast, and you always want to finish a race fast, so why not train your body ahead of time so you can run your best on the day it matters?

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64 Comments. Leave new

  • During training I usually do strides at the end of some of my training runs, but never before. I'll have to give that a try. I feel like I'm always more successful when I have solid tempo training runs & speed work in my training!

  • I am just amazed @ how talented and knowledgeable you are when it comes to running. Seriously, such an inspiration girl. Wherever you end up living in the next few months, def. think about coaching a club team or something. You have so much to offer yourself & the world <3

  • HOLY COW that first sentence is so exciting! Can you believe it??? CLAP IT UP. On the subject of strides, I was never good at doing them, even when I was healthy–at least not in a regimented program fashion. But I hope to this time around πŸ˜€ and I will be returning to this page for reminders!

  • I love, love, love strides! I make them a part of most easy runs and when I coach people, I add them on to their schedules as well. I'm glad to hear you think they are so important.

    And CONGRATS on finishing up your MBA!!!!

  • I don't even know half the time what the heck I am doing out there until I am doing it lol…OK, seriously, I do incorporate strides but never formally time them or measure them. I go by the distance between the lamp posts on my path as my guide. I totally feel that incorporating these bursts absolutely train my body to adapt to the speeds and especially the feel of it after a run so my body knows how to give that burst once it is already fatigued.

  • Oh no I hate strides because like you said they hurt, but this is such a good reminder I can't just put them off!

  • It has been years since I've done strides (college days!) but I love the reasoning behind them and think I will have my son do some after our training runs (I will join him!!) – they will be good for his upcoming half!
    Love that you are going to start sharing some of your wealth of running knowledge with us!!

  • This is a great post Tina! I have never done formal strides, but I definitely pick up the pace at the end of a run. I will have to add this into my running routine! πŸ™‚ By the way, CONGRATS on your MBA!! YAYYY!

  • Thank you so much for this very informational post! I have been wanting to start doing strides but did not know enough about them. This really helps!

  • Great post and great reminder that I need to get back in the habit of adding in strides to my routine. And, congrats on the MBA!

  • I just love running strides! Great way to activate the fast twitch muscles and not wear yourself out. Keeps the legs loose and fresh . I love to do them at the end of runs when I am serious about training. Can't wait to start soon :0)

  • There is a secret to running success, unfortunately it's different for everyone πŸ˜‰

    I usually have my athletes sprinkle strides into 1-2 of their easy runs each week.

  • such great tips! keep them coming! My husband uses a tempo meter when he runs hills so he can improve his stride. it has helped a lot!

  • Great post Tina! I've done strides occasionally, but never made it a formal part of my training. I'll need to look to include them when I start training for my fall half marathons.

  • This is so timely for me!! I have been doing a lot of strides (per my coach) for my upcoming Duathlon and I have to do more tomorrow!! I'm glad I'm doing them RIGHT and that elites like yourself and Molly are suffering through them as well. Misery loves company πŸ™‚ Thanks!

  • I'll admit I am very lazy doing strides. But now hearing you say how important they are I might have to start doing them!! So excited for the rest of this series!

  • Congrats on finishing your MBA! Woohoo! I haven't done strides in forever. Thanks for the reminder to kick it up for a fast finish.

  • I always intend to do strides… and then don't. A lot of times I have to pee so badly at the end of my run that I just can't run fast. Maybe I need to work on hydration so I can work on strides. πŸ™‚

  • I am so not a runner, so I do not know this lingo but at all! LOL! And it just took me 5 minute to remember the word LINGO! AHHH HA AH! Wow, I am brain fried today. However, I give you and all runners out there so much credit! It AIN'T EASY!

  • I've never done strides before but my sister's boyfriend is really into running and he told me that for the last 400m of any run to go faster than the rest of the run. I don't always do it but I should. I do running sprints but not usually the same day I do a steady state run.

  • (((settles in to watch the videos)))

  • I used to do strides after the majority of my runs and I felt like a much faster runner during that time. Now that I'm getting back into running I might have to give it a try. Thank you for letting me remember about that LOL.

  • Strides are definitely important! I personally like to climb stairs quickly, 12 times x 3 sets. Awesome for cardio. πŸ™‚

  • No, I don't run strides but I don't do much running lately. I read these posts to learn more and more. Maybe one day it will all click. πŸ™‚

  • I've never intentionally run strides although sometimes my running partner will amp up the speed a little at the end of our run. Love the vids!

  • Agree, strides are SO important! I need to do them more often!

  • Love learning! Thanks for sharing your expertise! Strides are not my favorite training run…yet!

  • I'm with you, Morganne. I never took my strides that seriously when my coach tells me to do them, but now I'll think twice and put some extra effort into it.

  • Great tips! When I remember, I do strides at the end of my easy runs. I think they're actually kind of fun, but maybe I'm not pushing hard enough. I like the change of pace!

  • Aaah this is a really great piece of information. It's so easy! I really wonder why I never did that before? I will try to incorporate strides now from time to time. And actually I love them. I like to move fast πŸ˜‰

  • Excellent post, Tina! Thanks for sharing! I will definitely use this for some of the girls I post when helping them understand the value of strides. Thanks again!

  • Thanks for the video & tips! I just started doing strides a couple of weeks ago. I was on travel and did them outside in the parking lot after a hotel treadmill run. At home, I do them outside or on the treadmill. Enjoy them! Will have to add them in to pre-race warmup as well.

  • Did you give them a try Erin? How did you get on? Tempo runs are SO important to running well. I think a lot of people see that now, I realized that in the comments of my tempo run post on Lisa's blog (runwiki). Hope training is going well πŸ™‚

  • Awww thank you lovely lady, that really means so much. I need that, I need to keep rereading that right now. I know you are going to be a great help to me as I go through this stage in my life!

  • Thanks Suzy πŸ™‚ Yeah, I have to force myself most days, but it is SO good for you! Hope you have been using them….or I will have to kick your butt to get going!

  • So glad you incorporate strides, and see their importance πŸ™‚ Thanks so much for your support!

  • Thats perfect Meridith! I dont use measured distances most of the time, so lightposts work great for strides. That is EXACTLY right πŸ™‚ Glad you see the benefit!

  • Hopefully even though you hate them, you have added some in πŸ™‚

  • Now I know how his half went, but did he do any strides in the build up? So glad you are enjoying my posts πŸ™‚

  • Thanks ladies, I hope you do! How are you getting on Linda?

  • Glad you enjoyed it becky πŸ™‚ Hopefully they are well in your training by now πŸ™‚

  • Thanks so much gianna πŸ™‚ Hopefully you have been adding strides to your runs!

  • That is so true! Glad you see the benefit, and hope they are well in your schedule for your upcoming races πŸ™‚

  • That is true, what is your best tip? πŸ™‚ I love how you said sprinkle πŸ™‚ Glad to hear it though!

  • Thats interesting, I have never heard of a tempo meter before! I am enjoying the few weeks back where I do not need strides yet….but they are coming soon!

  • Thanks Michelle. Have you started half marathon training yet? I know you signed up for my beloved race, but are you running workouts yet?

  • Hope they helped in your Duathlon, and future races to come of course πŸ™‚

  • Hope you can bring them in for cross country. They are great to do the day before a race to shake the rust out!

  • Hope you do πŸ™‚

  • Come on Cassssiiiee! You can do it, I believe in you πŸ™‚ Go pee quickly and come back out….that is what I do sometimes as my bladder is tiny!

  • Hahahah I do that sometimes when trying to think of the most obvious word….or when you have been looking at a word for a long time and it looks wrong after a while. Or is that just me?

  • Yep, that similar to doing strides….will you give either of them a go? πŸ™‚

  • Hope they were helpful πŸ™‚

  • Thats great to hear Hollie! I am sure they will pay you back at the end of races πŸ™‚

  • Oh thats a great workout too….do you do that at the end of a workout, or as part of your workout?

  • I sure hope so Carla, you have other great stuff going on instead though πŸ™‚

  • Thanks Kierston, sounds like your running buddy does natural strides πŸ™‚

  • Glad you agree, we can make sure we both do them, deal? πŸ™‚

  • I am not sure they ever will be a favorite, but maybe someday you will be able to do them comfortably. Means a lot that you enjoy the posts πŸ™‚

  • Thanks Tina πŸ™‚ They should be a little fun, but you should be breathing hard after each one for about 30 seconds πŸ™‚

  • Thanks Juli πŸ™‚ Have you been adding them in? If you love to move fast, these will be perfect for you!

  • Thats great! I love that you will pass it on! Thanks for your support Jesica!

  • Oh thats wonderful, so glad to hear you enjoy them too. Hopefully they help you prepare for a race πŸ™‚ They definitely work for me!

  • Thank you so much for all of this information! I have heard so much about “strides” but honestly didn't understand exactly what they are. I will start using these for training asap πŸ™‚

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