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Stride and tested

Another running day, another early start this week, and once again it was time to take on my old friend stride repeats. I set my alarm to wake me up early, but because of the heat, I woke up well before this and then when my alarm went off I fell back to sleep for another half an hour – the exact opposite of how I’d planned to start my day. 

Anyway, a banana and a bottle of water as I changed into my running gear and I was soon in the mood to head out.

The trouble with waking up late is that the length of time you have for training becomes squeezed and that means something has to give. And it’s always the warm up/cool down that gets rushed in favour of the real training part of the run. It’s a bit like an overrunning software project where the testing time gets squashed into the time remaining – there’s an assumption that things will be ok, and I guess there’s always a chance they may be, there’s also a chance of massive systems failure, or in my case, injury.

Fortunately for me it’s about a 15 minute jog to my strides path so I felt I’d done enough by the time I got there. Warming up correctly is clearly a necessity, but today I also wanted to focus on my form.

I recently wrote that I set out to do some strides but I could only go flat out sprinting, there was no “strides mode” on that day. I was looking to address that today. 

I’d researched what strides are and a general consensus online is that it’s about 85-90% effort, where as a sprint is full on, 100%. With this in mind, I strided the length of the path, working my way to what I thought was about the right amount of effort. I then tried an all out sprint.

I felt the difference in my vertical oscillation, how uppy-and-downy my body moved during the run. I felt sprinting felt my legs were coming higher, my body rising and falling every step. With strides, the motion felt much more fluid, much more lateral, parallel to the ground. If this is the case (and I guess I could only find out by filming myself), then it is likely my sprinting is comparatively less efficient. Following up on this, I read some advice that to curb vertical oscillation you have to imagine you’re running under a low ceiling. Not sure about this, one to remember for next time.

Based on that one run, I believe that (for me at least) strides are more in tune to race conditions, or rather the form I need in a race. I did 13 reps that morning, I’d set out to do 12 but ended up doing one for luck, perhaps a mild celebration for some new found knowledge around my running form.

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