If you have ever been to an InnerFight Track Tuesday session you will know, like many other group running sessions, strides are incorporated into your warm-up. Strides can be defined as “going from running easy to increasing your speed by lengthening your stride for about 15 seconds and then slowing your speed and walking back to a recovery”. But why do we do them and when should we be doing them?
There are so many benefits of performing strides. If completed prior to a main session, the main idea is to increase blood flow in the legs to aid warming up. And if prior to a race, they can also be used to get the mind adapted to what race pace might feel like. Alternatively, when strides are performed at the end or in the middle of a long or easy run, they aid in training the neuromuscular system. Allowing for an increase in speed to occur rapidly, resulting in an enhancement in form and speed. Super useful to translate to finishing strong in a race!
Strides are not usually done in isolation; instead, they are incorporated at the beginning, middle or end of a run. They are a great way to work on run mechanics without causing high fatigue. The outcome and benefits of strides doesn’t change depending on when you do them within your run. Just make sure that you do not confuse strides with intervals or speed work. While strides increase your heart rate, the primary physiological adaptation is neuromuscular, not cardiovascular.
In order to perform strides, take a few steps as a gentle jog and gradually build up to approx. 80-90% of your maximum speed for a couple of seconds and then gradually reduce the speed back down. Due to strides being a neuromuscular adaptation, it is important to maintain as close to perfect form as possible.
So, next time you groan when you hear the word “strides” at a group session or see it in your training plan; just bear in mind, we are only trying to help you run better and faster.