Find a 100-150 yard distance of smooth ground on any surface, such as a football or grass field, open road or path, or flat dirt trail. Typically, I use the road in front of my house since I run frequently from home, but my favorite place is the football field.
A strider is a gradual increase of speed, over the first three-fourths of the distance, followed by a gradual (float) deceleration to a walk. Recover between strides with a walking recovery of about 15-30 seconds before starting the next stride.
I like performing strides on the football field for the yard lines and it's soft surface. I use end-zone-to-end-zone (120 yards) and break the sections into 30 yard quarters. Example stride technique using a football field:
Start at the back of end zone.
First 30 yds: Start at a fast jog
Second 30 yds: Increase speed. A faster pace.
Third 30 yds: Increase again. Faster yet, but not all-out.
Last 30 yds: Slow down gradually to a walk. Feels like floating.
The stride is a controlled activity. At no time should the stride feel like an "all-out" pace or uncomfortable to do. The main idea with this technique is to avoid a sudden change in speeds. By accelerating every 30 yards, the change in speed is gradual and not abrupt. The same goes for the deceleration. The last 30 yards feel like a "float" slow-down to a walk and recovery. Walk, stand, or stretch for 15-30 seconds before starting the next stride.
Another simple method for performing strides (6 reps) is run at 2x each at 50%, 75%, and 90%. An easy way to gently gauge intensity without going "all-out."
I don't recommend a tremendous amount of strides in one set. In my experience, a set of 4 or 6 strides, 1-2 times per week is enough to create the desired stimulus. Performed this way, I suggest that a set of strides adds only 5-7 extra minutes to a workout.
Perform strides as a part of an easy run or recovery day, or prior to a quality workout or race. As with any new training activity, allow yourself 3-4 weeks of consistency in order to fully realize and adapt to the training stimulus that is presently performed.
By Lloyd Thomas