Adding short strides that last only 10-30 seconds are a great way to develop speed while also working on form and efficiency. Strides enhance neuromuscular transmission, which is the ability of the brain to quickly and efficiently recruit muscle fibres to contract (i.e. to run fast faster).
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Many coaches advocate adding strides to the end of easier runs when you’re already tired. This will force you to pay particular attention to your form. You can either complete the strides within the last few kilometers of your run or do them separately after the run is done, and preferably on a softer surface.
Strides should not be all-out efforts or total sprints. Instead, you should accelerate to a very quick speed, 5K pace or faster, in the first half of the stride then hold that pace for several seconds before slowing back down to a walk or jog.
Start with six 20-second strides and build up to 12 over a few weeks. Take about a minute to recover and catch your breath before starting the next one.
Strides are also a useful tool before any workout. Complete 4-6 strides before your usual interval or tempo workout in order to prepare the body for the stress of running fast by increasing your heart rate and pumping more blood to the working muscles.
Aim to add strides to one or two of your weekly easy runs plus before any hard/speed session. Over several weeks and months, the time doing strides will really add up and should pay off with faster and more efficient running.