Most athletes will perform a number of runs, often called strides, prior to a running session - particularly before one where there is to be any running at a significant speed.
Strides, or run-throughs as they are sometimes called, are runs over about 60m to 100m, in which the speed should be around the pace you would race an 800 or 1500m - so a fair way short of outright sprinting. Athletes are commonly told by coaches to try to stride at about two-thirds of their top speed. The speed isn't too important, but rather the feeling of running well in a controlled manner, with good form, and with the correct stride length.
In our opinion Strides should be used by all runners before a session starts.
This is to:
- get the body used to running at a faster pace than would have been run during the warm up jog.
- practice good running technique – you can concentrate here on running “tall” and “relaxed” without having to worry about being tired. See the Running Technique section for a more detailed description of how you should be aiming to run.
Coaches will often describe the way they want to see their athletes run as tall and relaxed. In practice this means that you should try to maintain height by concentrating on the levels of your hips and shoulders – there is a tendency for both of these to sag a little when an athlete is tired. If you find this hard, it often helps to lift your heels a little more towards your backside on each stride.
You should also try to maintain relaxation by keeping your shoulders, neck and face muscles relaxed.
The aim is to optimise stride length, which means getting a good long stride but not over-striding (which means your foot striking significantly in front of your centre of gravity).