Easy Speed for the Base Building Phase of Training: "Stride-Outs"

Coach Mike Broderick

A few weeks ago we talked about periodization of training, and the suggestion to use the holiday season as a recovery phase to transition between the fall racing season and the buildup to the spring season. One of the foundations of the recovery and subsequent base building phases of a periodized training plan is the predominance of easy aerobic running-lots of miles at conversational pace. While this is critical for re-establishing or building your strong aerobic base to allow you to train and race harder, it can also become a bit boring and lead to shorter and tighter running muscles due to the decreased range of motion associated with the shorter stride length of slower running. Here’s a simple way to help keep your running muscles limber and to improve your overall running form and efficiency-stride outs.

"Stride outs" are simply short fast bursts of running at a fast, but not all out pace. They are primarily designed to help improve your form and efficiency, but have the added benefit of actively stretching out your running muscles by taking them through a wider range of motion than you will do in most of your running at your easy aerobic pace. These should be done near the end of a couple of your easy run days.

To do them, simply pick up your pace gradually but steadily until you feel that you are running at something approaching the pace at which you could run an all-out mile. You should have a feeling that you are running fast but that you are still in control. If you are flailing your arms or struggling with your body mechanics to maintain the pace, you are running too hard. You should think about your running form as you do these; are your arms moving back and forth rhythmically to help drive your legs, are you landing just behind the ball of your feet with your footfalls, is your body upright without excessive forward lean, are you breathing deep into your stomach and not just on the top of your lungs? You should maintain the fast pace for about 15 to 20 seconds and then gradually slow to an easy jog to recover your wind, and then repeat. An easy way to do these is to pick out a landmark up ahead on the road such as a telephone pole or street sign and run your faster pace to the landmark. After you have recovered, just pick out another "finish line" to run to. You should try to do 4-6 of these strides on one or two of your weekly runs.

Try adding s few stride outs to your running now and add a bit of energy to your easy runs

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