Improve your running with Strides

Written by Caitlyn Ashton, runner and former coach for Team in Training

#tiptuesday – some training basics!

Past tippers have highlighted the importance of a dynamic warmup, considerations for what type of stretching/when, and myofascial release to make sure our bodies are at their best in training/racing. A couple of other important training basics that can help improve your running include strides and [I heard there was a special request for] breathing technique!


When returning from injury or starting to train for a new distance or starting a new training cycle, base building should include incorporating strides before jumping to more intense speedwork. Studies show* that running strides (aka accelerations, striders or stride-outs) 2-3x per week for several weeks can drastically improve your neuromuscular connection (when brain says go, muscles learn to do it the most efficient way possible) and improve running economy through improvement to turnover, hip extension and stride length. Strides are different than intervals — intervals are meant to increase heart rate and improve cardiovascular fitness while strides improve your form and economy. So, how do you execute them?

  • Find a flat, straight surface that you can run across for 20-30 seconds or 100m on the track.
  • Start running accelerating to 90-95% of your max speed by 10s in.
  • Hold this top speed for 5s.
  • Decelerate to a jog.
  • Focus on standing tall with your chin up, arms swinging by your sides (pick your pocket, feed your face!), legs under your body with hips straight and quick turnover from your feet.
  • Walk for a minute (or longer! Remember the intent is not cardio focused but form focused) until you are FULLY recovered.
  • Repeat 4-6 times.

Your speed across the stride should look like a bell curve (image below). Add 4 of these in 2x per week at the end of an easy run (never on consecutive days) once you have a good base of easy running for 4 weeks and see that economy improve! Once you have them incorporated for a couple weeks you can bump up to 6x. Once you are ready to progress to intervals, you can utilize these ahead of a track workout or race to loosen up the tendons, joints, muscles and remind your neuromuscular connections how to run hard before you ask them to 🤓


Bonus request- breathing technique

If you have posture concerns or struggle to connect to your deep core which are leading to breath challenges, your first step should be to work with a PT, like Kim!

Improving your breathing while you are running actually begins while your are not! A good place to start to ensure you are connecting to your breath fully when running is an exercise called diaphragmatic breathing and can be trained in the comfort of your own home. If you rely on shallow chest breathing, you will not utilize your deep core muscles as intended and can lead to challenges like tight low back, tight hips (and hip flexors), a tight pelvic floor and lead your body to go into a stressed state earlier in training and racing. The video below will give you tools that can help you practice this exercise and develop that muscle memory for running. Practice these starting 5 minutes a day and progress from there. Once you have a good hang of it, make sure you are incorporating this breathing across your daily routine, especially when doing strength work.

Diaphragmatic breathing:

Note: you can add a hiss on your breath out to ensure you are engaging those deep core muscles.

Even if you don’t struggle with breathing on the run, this can still be a great tool for relaxation!

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