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Guest Blog: Secrets to Success as a Runner…Strides

November 10, 2014

We are sharing an article written by Tina Muir, Elite Distance Runner for Saucony Hurricanes Racing Team, and former Olympic Trialist in the 10k meters.  Tina writes numerous training and nutrition articles on her blog "Fuel Your Future With Tina".  

With my MBA out of the way, I finally have time to dedicate some of my brain power to informative posts; I thought it would be good to do a series featuring what I consider the not so “secrets” of my success. Many of you may already do some, or all of these, but if not, they are the "little things" that make a BIG difference and hopefully help you become your best. If you missed the first post, you can read about the Importance of Keeping a Training Log.

Today I would like to focus on one of the nemeses (yep, I really did just use Merriam- Webster to make sure that was the plural of the word) of marathon training; strides.

In college, I loved doing strides. Okay, love may be a little strong, but I used to feel powerful and fast striding up and down the turf, mostly thanks to the other speed work that complemented my 5k/10k training. Strides gave me a pop in my step, which always led to a fast last lap to surprise even myself as I crossed the finish line.

Tina Muir EnduroPacks AmbassadorHowever, now I am slow...well, slow compared to 4:45 mile speed in college, lacking the kick I had in the "good old days". Now, strides hurt. They feel awkward, and all my muscles scream out in discomfort as they wonder why they could suddenly be expected to move so fast after over an hour of going a comfortable pace?

Whatever distance you are training for, be it 5k, 10k, half marathon or marathon training, strides should become an essential part of your routine before every workout, and another 2-3 times after recovery runs. In case I am not enough motivation for you, American Record Holder Molly Huddle runs 6 strides after every recovery run, "I'll try to focus on knee lift and getting a quicker and lighter turnover than during the easy run". Running Times also backs her up stating that strides allow you to improve coordination between the nervous system and the muscles.

So what are good strides?

Within 5-10 minutes of finishing your easy/recovery runs, you should find a flat stretch 60-100m long. A track is ideal, as you can measure out the distance.

Running significantly faster than you have been for the rest of your run, but not all out, you should open up your running stride, pumping your arms, and focusing on your form. You should get up to 80-85% of your maximum speed by the middle of the stride, before slowing down again. It may feel a little uncomfortable at first, and I usually notice my hamstrings do not enjoy the first few. It will get better!

Give yourself 30-90 seconds recovery before running back.

Complete 4-6 strides, and then follow your usual post run routine.

And here is another one coming back

Running strides after recovery runs will help your body to get used to a different speed, so you can not only finish a race faster, but your body is better prepared to handle pace changes during a race.

Strides should also be completed before a workout to fire up your fast twitch muscles to simulate a race as you run race/workout pace for a few seconds. If 6x100m is too many, try doing just 2 or 4-6 shorter strides. I usually do 4; then give myself 2-3 minutes for my heart rate to come down a little, before starting the workout.

The start of a race is always fast, and you always want to finish a race fast, so why not train your body ahead of time so you can run your best on the day it matters.

tina muir 

You can follow Tina on Twitter-@tinamuir, Instagram -tinamuir88, Pinterest-tinamuir88 or her blog, and cheer her on during her upcoming races, including the Brooklyn Half Marathon on May 17th.


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