So what do we need to do before and after every run to run faster, stronger and more economical?
The answer: Strides, also known as pickups, accelerations, build-ups, or striders. These are very commonly used by competitive and professional runners before races to warm up or at the end of every workout to keep their legs feeling fresh and fast. We should absolutely do them too before we skip to our post-run stretch routine or yoga!
Benefits of including Strides into our Workouts:
- Strides are great for developing speed and coordination at fast paces which we need to finish strong in races. They should be performed before and after our short run and long runs to simulate short and long races.
- Allows natural dynamic stretching pre or post-run. They can add mobility to our major running joints. Therefore they can aid in injury prevention even before we start our post run stretches. If we’ve ever had to think about what stretches before running we ought to be doing then strides definitely need to be counted in as one of the best dynamic stretches before our running workout.
- Specific form of strength and conditioning for important running muscles and tendons. Strength and conditioning has been scientifically proven to improve running economy and reduce our risk of injuries.
- Can be used pre-race or pre-workout as a warm up without being too strenuous (our legs should not be getting acidic as we do them!). They prepare bother our heart and legs for faster paced running. Hence, they are perfect before any harder runs.
- Can make us a better runners for both short and long distances by improving running economy
How We do Strides
- If doing strides before our running workout or race, make sure to do a good 10 minute warm up of easy running prior.
- Time our strides so that our race event or interval workouts follows very soon afterwards (2-3 minutes maximum)
- Find an uninterrupted stretch of 50-80metres. A grass field is most preferred.
- Gradually pick up our speed up to a 90-95% of our full sprint by 30-40m, holding this pace for another 10-20metres then decelerating slowly to our end marker.
- Focus on opening our stride length fully and running in a relaxed manner.
- Make sure to completely recover between each stride effort. We don’t want to build up a significant amount of lactic acid.
- Do this 4-10 (beginner to advanced) times depending on our level and how we feel
Key Mistakes We Avoid:
- Doing full sprint efforts. This will lead to higher levels of lactic acid and make it more difficult for us to recover from the workout.
- Making the distance longer and longer. Generally 50-80m is suffice with some athletes going up to 100-120m if experienced. However, do not go higher than this due to injury-risk and prolonging recovery needs.
- Inadequate recovery between efforts. Make sure our legs are not acidic or feeling heavy before our next stride. They should be feeling fresh between efforts.
- Treating pre- and post-workout strides as a full workout in itself and performing them too intensely. Keep in mind that Strides are for improving our neuromuscular abilities as opposed to trying to break down muscle for adaptive repair as the latter will incur too much stress to our body especially when tallying up our other hard workouts.
Making these mistakes to the point that our form begins to suffer due to fatigue is detrimental and risks injury as well as over training.
We personally love doing strides most after an aerobic threshold run or a long run to keep my legs feeling fast and springy after doing slower paces for over an hour. We have found that it has helped our speed in the longer runs and also that it helps us “kick it” at the end of races to finish strong with a sprint. We do strides at the end of almost every workout and as a warm up for 5km races. We highly recommend that they are included in everyone’s workouts!!
Let us know how you go!
Alexander JLN, Barton CJ, Willy RWInfographic. Running myth: strength training should be high repetition low load to improve running performanceBritish Journal of Sports Medicine Published Online First: 25 September 2019 https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/early/2019/09/24/bjsports-2019-101168.citation-tools