One of the new workouts that I’m doing as part of my Surf City Marathon training plan (Pfitzinger’s 18/55 plan) is running strides. Although I have incorporated strides into my taper week runs to keep my legs fresh, I’ve never really used them throughout a training plan before.
According to runnersconnect.net, “Strides are 20 to 35 second sprints at your mile race pace, or roughly 85 to 95% effort. Typically, they are assigned to a running schedule after an easy recovery run or before a big workout or race.” In Pfitzinger’s plan, strides happen at the end of a recovery or general aerobic run, typically the latter. In the book, his directions basically state that the strides should be done as part of your mileage for the day, but twoard the end. For example, if the plan says 8 miles general aerboic with 10 x 100 m strides, I would run 8 miles and around mile 5 or so, I’ll start adding in short bursts of speed. Since my Garmin tells me distance in miles, not meters, I calculated that since 1 mile is 1600 meters, .06 of a mile is approximately 100 meters.
I was surprised at how tough this workout was the first time I did it. Pfitzinger instructs in the book to build your speed to all out at around 80 meters, then float the final 20 meters. I did as instructed and found that it was more tiring than anticipated. However, it actually feels really good to sprint all out sometimes. It’s odd because 100 meters isn’t long enough for it to hurt while you’re running. Instead, it feels absolutely great. After you slow down is when you realize how hard you were working.
An article on Runner’s World claims, “Strides also improve your neuromuscular coordination, as the bursts of speed stimulate neural pathways. Just as a pianist’s fingers fly over scales that have been practiced repeatedly, your coordination and form become more fluid from these short but frequent doses of speed tacked onto the ends of easy runs. Result: You become faster.”
Strides aren’t always used for marathons – they actually are a more common exercise when training for 5 and 10ks, but can be a just as beneficial addition to half or full marathon training plan.
There are several ways to do strides. Some websites I found recommended you complete your easy run and then run 100 meters down the street or on the track, stop, turn around and walk back, and repeat. I like incorporating them as part of my run, but I think either way the benefit is there. I’m sure it’s a lot of factors, but the last week or two, I have felt like I’m getting faster. Maybe partially thanks to the strides!
Do you incorporate strides into your marathon or half marathon training?