At the end, I ran 10 strides of around 60-70 meters. After each one, I took a break of about 1-2 minutes walking so that I was fresh for the next one. I don't normally make a habit of doing strides, but it's one of the things that will help bump you over the top during a successful training cycle. I want to do them one a week.
The benefits of strides are numerous. Here are the basics behind strides from the folks at Runner's World:
Strides are those 60- to 100-meter "pickups" that runners typically do just before speed work or races. In these instances, they generally warm up well, stretch, and then use strides as a finishing touch to ease into fast-running mode. The reasons for doing strides before a bout of fast running are multiple: muscles need to be flooded with blood, fast-twitch muscle fibers need to be recruited, and race pace must be briefly simulated to get the body and mind ready to run fast.
But why do strides at the end of an easy run? One answer can be found at the finish line of almost any race: People like to run fast at the end of races. We all do it, both the first-place runner turning on his kick in the Olympic 10,000-meter final, or the 450th-place runner sprinting to out-lean the 451st at a local Haul Around the Mall 5-K. Easy-day strides will improve that finishing kick.
Strides also improve your neuromuscular coordination, as the bursts of speed stimulate neural pathways. Just as a pianist's fingers fly over scales that have been practiced repeatedly, your coordination and form become more fluid from these short but frequent doses of speed tacked onto the ends of easy runs. Result: You become faster.
Strides as Speed work
Strides are also a great, non-threatening way to begin speed work if you've never done it before, or if you're coming back from some time off. Consider these eight points when you start running strides:
1. Finish your easy run at a smooth dirt trail, or a park with a flat, grassy area. A track or straight stretch of road also work well.
2. When you start in, gradually accelerate to about 85 percent of your maximum speed for the first third of the stride, hold that pace for another third, and then gradually decelerate over the final third.
3. Easy-day strides should not be timed, and the exact distance of each stride is not critical. About 60 to 100 meters is fine.
4. The easiest way to get a feel for this distance is to do strides on a track or football field. Count each time your feet strike the ground as you stride over the 100 meters. Then when you're away from the track, you'll know how many foot strikes equal 100 meters at a similar pace. For me, 55 to 60 foot strikes equal 100 meters. Therefore, when I do strides I accelerate for 20 foot strikes, hold that speed for 20, and gradually decelerate for 20.
5. A quick turnover is important for speed. Think "quick arms" and your legs will follow.
6. After each stride, walk around and shake out your legs for 90 seconds.
7. Then stride back in the opposite direction.
8. Don't run too many strides at such a fast pace that your easy day becomes another hard day. German Silva did 8 to 10, but you can start with five or six.