Ask Mario: What Are Strides?

Fire up your fast-twitch muscle fibers and power through your next race or speed workout.

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I see “strides” or “striders” included in many training programs, but what the heck are they exactly? Thanks!

John. H


Hey John,

This is a good question and one I get often. For runners who are new to following a structured training program or trying different types of workouts for the first time, I can understand the confusion regarding strides (or striders, as they are also referred to by some).

Strides or striders are an easy and effective way to fire up the fast-twitch muscle fibers to help you power you through races and speed workouts. They also serve as a good speed maintenance session between faster workouts, especially for high-volume runners training for longer races.

In short, strides are 15-20-second accelerations performed at a fairly fast pace. Following a few of your weekly easy runs, find a flat stretch of road that’s roughly 100 meters long. Accelerate for 5 seconds, spend the next 5-10 seconds at near-top speed, and then gradually decelerate to a jog over the final 5 seconds. Catch your breath for a minute or so, and then go again. It’s important to recognize that these aren’t all-out sprints but rather short accelerations that promote running relaxed with fluid form: Get up on your forefoot, lift your knees, and focus on running with a fast cadence while covering ground quickly and comfortably.

I recommend that runners do a set of 4–6 strides 2–3 times a week after easy runs, as well as making them an essential part of your warm-up routine for speed workouts and races. For example, before a key workout of race, jog easily for 10-20 minutes and then perform a set of 4-6 strides a few minutes before you get going as a way to prime your legs for the prolonged faster running you’re about to do.

Hope this helps clear up any confusion!


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