Run Fast With Strides

How to execute short, quick bursts of speed

Strides—short bursts of quick running that are typically completed in the middle or at the end of a run, or as part of a warm-up to a speed workout—differ in definition when compared to the term stride to describe a runner's unique biomechanics. "She has a beautiful stride," or "He has the perfect stride for the marathon," is not the way we're using the term in this article. In this discussion, strides are short distances run at race pace or faster. Strides can be done the day before a workout, done in the final minutes before a workout or done in the final minutes before a race.

Why Stride?

Sprint coach Vince Anderson never uses the term strides with his sprinters because he thinks that sprinters hear "strides" and they interpret it as "loaf." So the term "stride" may best be used for distance runners, for whom the term stride means running a short distance at race pace or faster.

More: How to Find a Race Pace That Works

Strides are typically 100 to 150 meters in length, but they can also be assigned as a duration of time. When using time, you could say 4 x 30 seconds at 5K pace with 60 seconds of easy running between the strides. So that's 30 seconds run at 5K pace, 60 seconds of jogging, 30 seconds at 5K pace, 60 seconds of jogging, 30 seconds at 5K pace, 60 seconds of jogging and finally 30 seconds at 5K pace. This is the assignment I give most of my adult runners the day before a workout. Why? Well, most of these runners are training for a half marathon or marathon, and when they run 5K pace, their neuromuscular system is reminded that it can work at paces faster than half marathon and marathon pace. There is a greater neuromuscular demand—more motor units are called upon—and there are biomechanical changes, either in stride length, stride frequency or both. Many adult runners become metronomes who can run marathon pace all day, yet can't run a 5K that correlates to their fitness (see if your PRs correlate with one another).

More: How Do I Run a Faster 5K?

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About the Author

Jay Johnson

Coach Jay Johnson works with runners of all ages and abilities. A former collegiate coach at the University of Colorado, he's coached U.S. national champions, adult and high school runners, and is the coach for Athletics Boulder, an adult running club. Sign up for individualized training from Jay at RunnersConnect.net. Check out his Running DVDs, read his blog at coachjayjohnson.com, follow him on Twitter @coachjayjohnson, or message him on Facebook.

Coach Jay Johnson works with runners of all ages and abilities. A former collegiate coach at the University of Colorado, he's coached U.S. national champions, adult and high school runners, and is the coach for Athletics Boulder, an adult running club. Sign up for individualized training from Jay at RunnersConnect.net. Check out his Running DVDs, read his blog at coachjayjohnson.com, follow him on Twitter @coachjayjohnson, or message him on Facebook.

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