Strides are Like Tequila Shots.
Strides are so important. They're free speed training. They're free form training. I've been trying to think of a way to describe the approach I take to getting my strides done, and this is the metaphor I came up with.
To me, strides are like the free shots your friend offers you on your 21st birthday. No matter how much you hate tequila, you don't say no. You rip that shit.
I genuinely feel a disdain for strides at times. Much in the way I feel for tequila. Once it's done, I feel loose and even fun! But beforehand, I feel annoyed that I have to do these things, despite them taking such little effort. This resistance is confusing to me because I know how beneficial they are, so have had to find a way to remind myself of how crucial they are. They really are such an easy thing to add and take 5 minutes. It's really not that big of a deal to just get them done. Strides are such an easy component to add to the end of easy runs, and are incredibly important to use in warming up for speed workouts.
Easy Run Strides:
Tack these on to the end of an easy run.
-These are accelerations but not full on sprints. They should typically be done between 5k and 1 mile pace, though I tend to prefer them approaching close to mile pace.
-I am also a fan of easing into the acceleration of each stride. The first one does not have to be the fastest, allow your body to ease into the faster paces with each repetition.
-They can be anywhere from 50/60 meters to 100/120 meters. I personally prefer to use shorter distances when I'm first adding strides to my easy runs, then making them longer after a couple weeks of using them. I believe the distance of the stride should end before I reach top speed, but will be gradually increasing in acceleration over the course of the distance.
Why tack these onto the end of an easy run?
-Neuromuscular repetition: connecting your brain to your body. Doing strides allows your brain-body to recall how to move quickly.
-Biomechanics: strides help reinforce proper form.
-Fast twitch muscle fibers: Doing strides reminds your legs how to recruit fast twitch muscle fibers, hinting at speed work. This is a reason why I especially like to employ strides on the easy run the day preceding a speed session.
-Muscle Recruitment: Adding strides to the END of a run teaches your legs how to recruit muscle fibers on tired legs. By doing strides post-run, you improve your ability to recruit muscle fibers and increase turnover in a fatigued state.
Speed Session Strides:
Use strides as a form of warming up before a speed session.
-Do your typical easy warm up miles before doing drills and strides.
-Realistically, drills then strides takes a lot of time at the ass crack of dawn before having to head to work. A way I've begun to condense these is by striding out, pausing, then doing a couple of drills instead of jogging back. The strides will gradually get faster, and you begin activating your muscles for the speed session.
-Pre speed strides are like the primer before the paint. They get you loosened up and they remind your brain of what you're about to do. This way, when you begin your actual workout you can get right into it and your first repetition is not a throw away running on cold legs.
-You're basically waking your legs up. Running fast without being properly warmed up is how you strain something.
-Again, I do not encourage doing strides at full throttle, especially when cold before a speed workout. Gradually increase acceleration with each stride and over the course of the 100 meter distance. The last couple strides should be faster than the pace your workout is about to be at.
So, yes. Strides may seem annoying at times. And maybe you have to work yourself to do them. But just do them. Do not say no. Just rip that shit.