I feel like a lot of my athletes have asked me about “striders” before, and it doesn’t always occur to me that some people have never done them before! I think different people, coaches and runners have different interpretations of strides and/or striders, so I wanted to clarify what I mean when I assign them.
My version of striders:
In high school, my coach would have us do “striders” after a workout to basically shake out our legs. (During a long run or hard workout, your legs are consistently moving in the exact same repetitive motion over and over again.) “Striders” — or roughly 100-meter “accelerations” where you concentrate on, and even overemphasize, proper running form — allow you to move in a different way (and at a different pace) than the way you’ve been moving for the last hour or so. If you’ve just completed a long, slow workout, you’ll increase your leg turnover & remind yourself you have different speeds.
Striders essentially break up the monotony of whatever workout you just did. They can loosen up your tight muscles, and reinforce good running form (during your workout, you may start to compromise your form due to fatigue).
Our coach would also have us do them on days when we had track meets as a way of warming up. Before a workout, striders can loosen up your legs, help prepare you to run fast (in case you are doing a track/speed workout, or perhaps running a 5k), & reinforce good running form directly before you start a workout.
Here’s a very simple video from running coach Jason Fitzgerald that shows you how to do striders.
You might have questions, like, “Are striders really that important?”
The answer is both yes and no. You’ll probably be fine without them, honestly. BUT by reinforcing/reminding yourself of good running form (running tall, pelvis tucked under your hips, arms pumping to help you along) and shaking your legs out pre or post-workout, you could very be helping yourself avoid an injury. It’s also a great way to dynamically stretch before a workout, AND a great way to end a long run or speed workout. Because even if you slog the last mile or three miles of your run, you’ll finish on an upbeat, speedy note that shouldn’t take longer than two minutes.
Also, my high school coach would be happy if you did them.
If for some reason striders aren’t your jam, doing some butt kicks, high knees and even side shuffles before, during or after a long run can also help you shake up the monotony of your run and/or prepare you for your workout (dynamic drillz are always a good idea). I may look weird, but I every few miles during a marathon I try to do some hip openers and high knees mid stride.
ANYWAY, I hope you all have a better understanding of strides/striders now! And that is all I have to say about that!