How to Include Strides in Your Routine
Complete strides in the last third of an easy run, so if you run 45 minutes for an easy day, then do four strides some time after the 30-minute mark of the run. Strides are also important for workouts and before races. I like 3 to 4 strides to be the last part of the warm-up before a fast workout, and I definitely want to see people doing 3 to 4 strides in the final minutes before a race. Again, you want to "wake up" the neuromuscular system, making sure your body is ready for the demands of the race.
My college coach liked to talk about Basic Proficiency Maintenance days, or BPM days. This was a day where you ran an easy aerobic run to maintain a general level of aerobic fitness, but also a day where you ran some strides to maintain a basic proficiency at race pace. For example, a 1,500m runner may run 5 x 100m at 1,500m pace (with a 300m jog for recovery) just to make sure that he will not only be able to work out at that pace, but also to run that pace during a race.
For the high school track athlete or the collegiate track athlete, strides should be done on the track, and timed. There is not a 150m mark on most tracks, so coaches will need to use a measuring wheel and mark that spot inside lane one.
How to Run Strides Properly
Run with good posture, meaning a 1- to 2-degree forward lean. Your ankles should feel "poppy" and your arm action will obviously be more active compared to your slower running paces. For most runners, a stride feels like a fun, efficient experience. And there is some research to show that running at race pace will improve your stride and improve your efficiency. You can read more about this in Matt Fitzgerald's book Run: The Mind-Body Method of Running by Feel.
Those are the basics of how to run strides. The strides that adult marathoners and high school 1,600m runners should do are different; check Jay Johnson's blog for more details on this in future posts.race.