Recently I answered a question for a running newsletter about improving one’s stride. The reader asked:
During intervals, my cadence floats between 175 and 190, with an average of 180. However, my stride length is a little short for my height. I’m 5’10” but my stride average is around 1 meter 18 or 1 meter 25. Are there workouts that you would recommend to improve stride length?
In this brief blog post I wanted to share my answer, since there are some simple things every runner can (and should) do to make running an even more enjoyable experience! Ready to make running a whole lot easier and more efficient?
I recommend three components: Uphill strides, downhill strides, and resistance training.
Warm up for all three with a couple miles of easy jogging. For uphill strides, find a steep hill and run up for 15-20 seconds. Your effort should feel equivalent to 5k pace and focus should be on your… stride! Focus on following through at the end of each push, using your feet for that last little bit of spring and your arms for added momentum. If strides are new for you, start with 5 reps. For more experienced striders, 8-10 reps is good. Rest by walking down the hill for 1-2 minutes between reps. Start by adding uphill strides to one workout per week. You may wish to work up to twice a week.
Downhill strides: Find a gradual to moderate grade and run downhill for 2-3 minutes. Your effort should be equivalent to a tempo workout. Run up to four reps of three minutes each, with 2-3 minutes jog or walk recovery. Start with low reps…downhill running will leave your quads sore! But these strides also help guard against quad soreness during/after future workouts and races. Once every two weeks is sufficient for this workout.
Resistance training! A lot of runners don’t do it. There’s many ways to achieve resistance training. Squats and lunges are a good place to start. Use a weight that allows you to do 8-12 reps, and do 2-3 sets. I also recommend a few body-weight strength exercises: The Step Stride, Curtsy Lunge Hop, and Eccentric Calf Raises are all favorites of mine. If you are unfamiliar with these exercises I have videos of them on my Products and Freebies page. Click “Start Today Strength.” Resistance training should be done about twice a week, ideally with different exercises for each workout. Start with only a couple sets and work your way up to three.
In addition to warming up before each of these workouts, be sure to warm down afterward. Another 1-2 miles of jogging will do it. With a good warm up and warm down, these basic strength workouts become a complete workout, and provide some nice variety in any runner’s program.
I wrote an article for this newsletter a few months ago detailing how to do an awesome hill workout and why it makes you a better runner. That totally applies to this question as well! Read “Add a Little Intensity” to learn exactly how hill repeats will make you a stronger strider.
Exercises like the ones I describe above are highly effective at improving your stride and all-around strength. And they’re super fun! It’s a great way to shake up your normal running routine. If you would like to peruse some other great exercises to add to your new Stronger Strider routine, join my email list and I will send you some more free videos!