Strength Laps

The kick-butt workout every runner must do

Strength Laps
Photo: Greg Eymundson

Strength Laps is one of our most popular workouts with the South Hill Striders. Once a month we execute this power interval session and the rewards … er, pain will stick with you a while.

The goal of this workout is to get your body and mind used to running well and maintaining form with tired, heavy legs. We generally do it one of two ways: consistent runs of 4 or 5 times 800 metres or a pyramid of 400, 800, 1,200, 800, 400 with a strength lap between each run effort. The interval laps are usually done at a 5K or 10K race pace, but the basic goal is to run a pace that is fast enough to make the final two intervals challenging and force you to concentrate on holding good form until the end of each.

Warm-up well with 10 – 20 minutes of easy running followed by a few of the exercises found in the strength laps.

A strength lap is once around the track broken up into eight by doing 50m of each of the drills. Starting with 50m of A’s, 50m of B’s, 50m of walking lunges, 50m of side strides facing in, 50m of side strides facing out, 50m of butt kicks, 50m of backward running and finally 50m of walking to the start of your next interval.

Strength Lap Drills


These are all about the knee drive. With upright posture walk forward with an aggressive knee lift and drive your foot back to the surface right under your body. You can do this as a walk or with a bit more pop as hopping A’s.


This is an A with some reach. Start with an aggressive knee lift, but on the return to the ground reach out as if you are trying to roll a barrel underneath you. You should finish with a scratching sound under your body weight.

As and Bs
A’s (Right) & B’s (Left)
Photo: Greg Eymundson

Walking Lunges

This is the hard one, so always moderate the workout as your fitness allows. Take exaggerated steps forward while walking slowly being careful not to exceed a 90-degree angle at your knee while maintaining an upright posture. Stay in control and take a break if needed.

Side Strides

Basketball and soccer players will be used to this one. Side step with a low athletic body position, hands out in front, eyes straight ahead. Switch to face the outside of the track after 50m and repeat. You can walk or bound these.

Walking Lunges and Side Strides
Walking Lunges (Left) & Side Strides (Right)
Photo: Greg Eymundson

Butt Kicks

Just that simple. Run with a very upright body position and try to get your heels to hit your butt. These short little quick strides will get the quad muscles ready for another interval.

Backward Running

Yes, turn around and run slowly backwards for 50m. This will help you get used to the proper footfall. You will now be landing midfoot, loading the heel briefly before the next stride. This should be the same footfall you have while running forward.

Butt Kicks and Backward Running
Butt Kicks (Right) & Backward Running (Left)
Photo: Greg Eymundson