As I’m sure you’ve noticed, our distances are getting longer. If you’ve been coming to most of the weekend runs, your cardiovascular system is ready. If you’ve been doing the midweek training, your joints are ready. Now it’s time to focus on your muscles. Let’s work on making them more powerful and efficient so you can still feel strong when you’re taking on those double-digit distances.
One way to do this is to run “strides”. Strides are short bursts at high speed, followed by a slow recovery that’s at least 3 times as long as the time you spent at high speed. For example, if you run hard for 30 seconds, give yourself at least 90 seconds for recovery. Better yet, 2 minutes. Then repeat it a few times, focusing on good running mechanics each time.
- Keep your arms low at your sides
- Lean forward just enough so that your body naturally falls forward
- Land on your mid-foot first, then let your heel hit, so your footsteps are quiet
The best time to do strides is either as part of your warm-up, or toward the end of an easy pace run. The physical and mental benefits of strides include:
- Builds leg strength
- Improves anaerobic capacity (making it easier to run hard)
- Increases “running economy”, teaching your body to be more efficient
- Improves speed
- Adds some variety to the longer distances
Keep this up, along with the speed workouts we’ll be adding throughout the rest of the season, and as the distances get longer, you’ll be able to approach them with a feeling of “No problem. I’ve got this. Bring it on!” You will be strong, confident, and one step closer to achieving your race day and lifelong goals.