On the training pages I keep seeing reference to 'strides'. Can somebody enlighten me as to what this means - I thought that's what I was doing all the time anyhow!


  • Strides are short 'pick ups' i.e. where you increase the pace for 100 metres or so. Strides are generally used just before an interval session to ease you into running fast but can also be used mid run (particularly long runs) to give you a bit of a stretch.
  • trousers (according to the aussies)

  • Thanks MartinH - and you too mm of course!
  • RedheadRedhead ✭✭✭
    Martin, So what's the difference between strides and fartleks?


  • Redhead

    Strides are really quite specific i.e. their purpose is generally just to warm up for something else i.e. an interval session ,for example you might run 5 x 100 metres "strides" before an interval session of say, 6 x 800 metres to 'get your legs moving'.

    Fartlek is a training session in itself (apparently fartlek is the Swedish word for speedplay) where you head off on a run but intersperse different paces throughtout the run e.g. a 30 minute fartlek session might look like:

    5 minutes warm up
    4 minutes at marathon pace
    4 minutes jogging
    2 minutes at 10k pace
    2 minutes jogging
    30 seconds sprint
    1 minute jog
    3 minutes at half marathon pace
    3 minutes jogging
    1 minutes at 5k pace
    5 minutes jog home

    Really though fartlek isn't a prescribed session and you just run fast and slow as you please - its supposed to be a fun session!
  • I think, Martin - although there are many varieties of fartlek you can do - strictly speaking, fartlek recovery pace is not "jogging" but rather your base training pace (steady) or faster, hence the major difference between fartlek and interval training. By recovering at a fairly strong pace you are gaining enormous benefits in speed endurance that you wouldn't get if you just jogged.

    The other thing to mention is that fartlek also typically (but not necessarily) involves mixing in hill efforts - in fact it's often a good idea to do fartlek over a moderately hilly cross-country course, to get the best out of what is really a "all-round" work-out.

    It's a work-out that's well worth getting the hang of - and yes, it does feel odd at first - because it really works, it's a lot of fun (as Martin rightly points out), and for me it leaves you with a great feeling of being sharp and energised (that you won't tend to get from pounding out of the intervals!).

  • I think the recovery depends on how fast you do the fast bits! Generally though I would agree that its a better session if it includes surges - the difficulty I find is if you surge its too tempting just to try and hang on for the whole run!

    You are right about the hills, I forgot as all my runs are hilly (I live in a valley).
  • Jo, Martin is partly right with his answer, as 'Strides' are used for warming up. However they are actually a series of excercises which you will see all track runners doing prior to training or races. They are generally done over 30 to 50 metres and are as follows:-

    1. Heal kicks, running slowly but kicking your heals up so that they nearly contact your backside. Sometimes you will see the runner holding their hands behind them so that they contact their fingers.

    2. Knee lifts, running again with not much forward momentum but lifting your knees to an exagerated degree whilst swinging your arms.

    3. Long strides, this is basically slow speed sprinting with an exagerated stride length.

    I have done these whilst down at my local track and felt a right twit, but the coach insists on them.

    Not very easy to explain exactly what is involved but I recommend that you have a wander round your local track and see for yourself.

    All the best

  • RedheadRedhead ✭✭✭
    Martin and Achilles, Thanks for the explanation.

    I've been doing my own version of fartleks for a while and I always use the treadmill, sometimes I use the hill setting. My normal pace is 10kph and I up this to 12 or 13kph for periods of 1-2 minutes throughout the session (if I am doing a 45 minute session I would include 4 bursts of speed then return to my normal pace). Sometimes at the end I do what I call a sprint finish, pretending I'm Paula Radcliffe (only older and fatter obviously!), and I up the speed to 14.5kph for the last 200m.

    Do you think this is a good way to do fartleks or could I do it another way?


    ps Jo, I hope you don't mind my digression
  • Redhead -

    sounds like you're doing it just fine, although you could perhaps benefit from more variety and more frequent intervals (i.e. longer, slower bursts of up to 1K, and shorter and faster bursts of as little as 200m, as well as the hills that you do), but as I think Martin pointed out, it's very much up to how you feel as you're running.

    the only other thing I would say is that a sprint finish, tempting as it is to emulate Paula (!), is best avoided, simply cos you should be using the last 10 minutes or so as a cool-down (unless you're doing a cool-down on top of that?). it's never a good idea to come to an abrupt stop after running hard.

    good luck and happy fartleking, if that doesn't sound too rude. s.
  • Agree with achililes - fartlek is about variety so try and change the setting (some treadmills have a random setting which can be very useful). Also if possible try a session outdoors where gradients and changing surfaces will also add interest.
Sign In or Register to comment.