By Dr. Jack Daniels
I learned about strides (also referred to as striders) from the elite runners who were subjects in my 45-year longitudinal study on elite distance runners, which began in 1968, in preparation for the Mexico City Olympics (and ended in 2013).
A Canadian runner I worked with referred to strides as having originated in East Germany. In any case I learned about them from other runners.
What is the purpose?
Think of strides as being Repetition-pace runs, with no particular distance being covered. The benefits include improvement of speed and economy and to help aid the recovery process.
At what intensity?
Strides are best done at an intensity you believe you could race at for about 5 minutes. Strides can be performed on flat, uphill or downhill terrain, and be certain to maintain normal stride rate and not go faster than what feel normal, especially when going downhill use quick, short leg turnover. Remember, strides are not meant to be sprints.
When to incorporate in your training?
I have included strides in the middle of Threshold runs, as part of warm-ups for training or racing and following easy runs. During a base phase it’s good to emphasize strides more (2-3x per week) as you get closer to introducing Quality Sessions.
How long and how much time to recover between each?
Strides should last about 15-20 seconds each with easy jog or walking recoveries following each. Recovery time following each stride is typically 2 to 3 times as long as the duration of the stride or whatever you feel allows good recovery from each. You want to give yourself enough time between to feel light, quick and relaxed on each one.
Think in terms of time, rather than distance for your strides since speed will vary depending on the type of strides (flat track, overground, uphill, downhill, etc).