What are strides? INCUS explains

How much time do you spend working on your running technique? Running strides is a quick and easy way to introduce some speed and form practice into a training session. Here we explain how strides can help to improve your running technique and why technique matters.
What are strides in running?

A stride, sometimes called a pick-up, is a short acceleration during which you over-exaggerate your running form for a set period of time.

Are strides sprints?

Strides are not sprints, even though you are accelerating. The aim is to lengthen your stride whilst going a bit faster than normal and focus on your technique. The purpose is to hold good form, not to hit peak speed.

How do strides make you faster?

Adding strides to your running allows you to work on your technique in short bursts. It's easy to focus on form when you're only running for 20 to 30 seconds as you're not tired or close to your physical limits. It helps to give your body the right mental and physical cues for what good technique feels like and prepares your body for longer bursts of speed when you are in a race situation.

Liam Walton, our Validation Manager explains more “ The benefits of strides are to focus on form and technique over a shorter period of time, typically with a higher cadence and greater stride length.  Using INCUS | NOVA during your strides training means you can see what that "improved technique" looks like in terms of data and how that data compares with your typical running technique.”  Using INCUS data from short, but focused, technique sessions means you can start to hone in on what good form for you looks like using our technique-based metrics.

What makes good running form?

What is the best running stride?

When running with the proper stride length, your feet should land directly underneath your body. As your foot strikes the ground, your knee should be slightly flexed so that it can bend naturally on impact. If your lower leg (below the knee) extends out in front of your body, your stride is too long. INCUS measures your Stride Phases, Cadence, Take-Off and Landing Deceleration which will enable you to monitor how good your running form is. You can find out more about which metrics INCUS measures and why they are important on our product page HERE.

How to improve running technique

How do I do strides?

Start the stride part of your run with easy running, focusing on a short, quick stride.  Gradually increase your speed by lengthening your stride and as you do so keep your torso tall and relaxed. Even though you are running fast the pace should feel controlled so you can ensure your form does not become ragged.

How long should a stride take

A stride should only last 20-30 seconds to accelerate from easy running to fast but slowing down again before you reach peak speed. Because the intervals are relatively short you should not feel yourself gasping for breath or hitting your highest heart rates. Allow at least two-minutes of easy running between strides – you need to be completely fresh to focus on getting technique right.

When should I do strides?

Strides are short fast accelerations using good form, so they make a perfect component of your warm-up and even cool down. This means you can practice your form without having to carve out any extra training time.

How often should I do strides?

You only need to do 6-8 strides as part of your session. You can do them as part of your warm-up for every run and at the end of recovery runs as a short, light but fast way to finish that will help increase your speed and leg-turnover.

How do you know when you have good running form?

Getting a Personal Best does not necessarily indicate your form has improved. Good running technique or form is about much more than just going fast. It can help protect you from injury for a start. By frequently training with good form during strides you develop the neuro-muscular pathways that ensure good form is embedded in your muscle movement patterns so it is less likely to break down when you are fatigued or trying to run faster than usual.

Data led training

Looking at our INCUS running metrics and comparing your data from your strides – when you are focused on technique – and mid-way through a run when you are not will help you to see which parts of your technique breakdown when you are fatigued. 

Liam explains “after a period of adding strides into your training you can try to take that form into an entire run. With INCUS | NOVA you can see at what point that new form deteriorates and returns to your old technique. This has many applications to running but with the data INCUS provides you can start to learn and understand what your good technique looks like in numbers and data, and also see when that changes and potentially why.”

Without good quality, comparable data it is very hard to track how much your form has improved, running speed alone is not enough, but with INCUS you have the answers at your finger-tips. Not yet INCUS enabled? It’s time to find out what you don’t know about your running technique! Running bundles are available in store now.