There are many ingredients to a successful training recipé, and coaches often mix and match them depending on their athletes’ fitness, the event they are training for, and where the athletes are in relation to their racing season. You’re familiar with most of them: long runs; intervals, tempo runs, fartleks, etc. But one building block that’s often neglected is stride outs, also known as “striders.” Striders will benefit any runner, from high-school cross country athletes to professionals.
So what are stride outs, anyway? Stride outs are short accelerations of 100-150 meters that start at a gentle jog, and build to close—but not all-out—speed, and then jog down to a stop. Most runners take their time walking or gently jogging in between each one. They are different from intervals in that you’re not trying to shorten your recovery.
Let’s be clear: Stride outs, like your warm-up exercises, are a means to an end, not an actual workout. The point is to develop your form and feel for speed. Stride outs are all about turnover and getting used to running at high speeds.
When: Stride outs are great after an easy base-building run. Again, think of them as a form/speed development tool, not a workout. Stride outs will help increase your range of motion, and tune your turnover, and serve as a good way to wrap up you run. Another option is before a race or speedwork. In this scenario, stride outs prepare your body to run fast, setting you up for the rigors of a race.
Where: Stride outs can be done anywhere—roads or track, but a flat forgiving surface like a soccer or football field is ideal.
Length: As mentioned earlier, stride outs are typically 100-150 meters. But you can shorten or lengthen that distance depending on what you are training for. A half-miler would do shorter stride outs, while someone training for a marathon might extend them a bit further—say 200 meters—at a slightly slower pace.
- They are proven to increase your running economy (a very big deal!)
- Striders serve as a building block to speedwork
- Post-run, they help you loosen up
- They prepare your body to run fast by activating your fast-twitch muscles
Start with about four striders and build up to six or so. See how you feel after a month of doing them a few times a week. Chances are you be feeling smoother and running faster!
Upcoming Races: Sunday, August 1 at 7:30 a.m., One Two Tri Triathlon at Texas Ski Ranch in New Braunfels. Saturday, August 7, Capt’n Karl’s Trail Series – Muleshoe Bend—60K, 30K, 20K, 10K, 5K trail runs. Events start at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, and end by 7:00 a.m. on Sunday, August 8.