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Running Strides on a Treadmill

Posted by George Parker on
Running Strides on a Treadmill

As Fall progresses and Winter approaches, many runners are entering a base-building period in their training. Along with easy miles, strides are often an essential workout this time of year. However, darkness, cold weather, and treacherous ice, and snow on outside running surfaces occur this time of year. Treadmill workouts are an effective alternative this time of year. Just because you are running on a treadmill does not mean you have to give up on running strides.

Why run strides?

Strides are an essential running workout that helps ingrain fast running form into your legs. Correctly done, you run strides for 20-30 seconds at ~90% of maximum speed. Strides are not a sprint but rather a gradual progression to a high pace, turnover "stride" that will teach you to run fast with correct form. You should not feel winded at the end of the stride, and your heart rate should recover before beginning the next stride. The goal of strides is running form, not anaerobic fitness gains. 

Strides prepare your body for running fast in future workouts. Inserting strides into a base period training block prepares your body for future fast workouts. Strides at the end of easy runs remind the body how running fast feels after a session of slower pace effort. Inserting strides before a workout or race prepare the legs for the upcoming quick turnover and intensity. 

How to run strides

Although strides are typically run on a flat road, grass field, or track, strides can be run effectively on a treadmill with practice. It would help if you were comfortable starting with your feet on the side rails of the treadmill. Then, practice lowering your body and accelerating your feet to "hop" onto a fast-moving treadmill belt. For most, this action is unconsciously familiar and natural. Strides rely on the same motion, except the treadmill belt will be moving much faster. 

To begin a treadmill stride, start running at a comfortable, easy pace. Then, increase the treadmill speed to slightly faster than your 5K effort. As the treadmill belt accelerates, you will gradually run faster. (With practice, work on increasing your stride speed to 800-meter effort.) Hold the pace for 20-30 seconds. 

Maintain good form while running your stride. Think fast and smooth. Land properly on your foot (not heel striking). Push back with each stride, driving your foot towards your butt. Aim for a long, open, and smooth stride. Your arms should be driving forward and backward at your sides and not crossing your centerline. Keep your head up with eyes looking forward. At the end of the stride, use the arm rails to support your weight and hop back onto the side rails. Slow the treadmill to an easy pace and recover. Repeat. 

Depending on your treadmill, consider increasing the treadmill incline to 1-2%. At higher speeds, increasing the treadmill incline will help minimize machine rattling and shaking. 

Stride Workout

Start by adding 4 strides in a workout and slowly build to 8-10 over the course of training block. 

Running strides on a treadmill can be an effective and safe training tactic. Give it a shot and see if it helps increase your running speed.

Best wishes on chasing your running goals!

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