When I first started running seriously back in high school we would do 10 strides at the beginning and end of just about every practice. I didn’t know why we were doing them just that coach said to do it and everyone else was doing them so I complied. What are strides you ask? They are short bouts of fast running, usually about 80 to 100 yards and done at about 80% effort. You are running fast, in control, and not all out. The goal of strides is to work on your neuromuscular fitness and your running form. They make you more efficient from a running form perspective rather than a cardio vascular perspective. And they are a hell of a lot of fun.
Now in my mid forties, I don’t do 10 strides before or after every run. I will usually do 4 to 6 if warming up for a race. The shorter the race the more important these are to do. If you are running a 10k or a 5k you need to get your body ready to run fast and strides are a great way to do that. In the normal course of training I will do 4 – 6 strides after easy runs. More often than not I incorporate them into the last mile or so of my easy runs. I’ll pick a landmark (tree, hydrant, light pole, car, etc.) and start speeding up when I hit it. I’ll go for 80 yards or so and then jog until I feel recovered and then speed up again. While I’m doing these I try to focus on running tall and engaging my glutes. This will promote better form and a more efficient running stride.
So the next time your out for an easy run give some strides a try.
Enjoy the run.