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Strides: Strides offer a way to work on your speed and form. They are less structured than other workouts and don’t take a lot of time. Basically, strides are gradual accelerations over 80 to 100 meters. By running four to eight strides a couple times a week, you help your legs and the rest of your body remember what it's like to run fast. Without strides or some type of speed-form drill, it's easy to get sloppy in your running and do only slow running with bad form. You can find yourself slipping into a pattern where you're training to run slowly and inefficiently rather than faster and more economically.

Here's how to do strides. Warm up for 15-20 minutes; find a smooth, level place to run. (I like to use a track because you can stride the straights and jog the corners for recovery.) Lean into your first stride as you would the beginning of a race, and continue accelerating for 80 to 100 meters. Concentrate on your form, staying smooth and strong (but not straining) as you accelerate. Try to stay up on your toes and drive through so that your knees come up even with your hips. Use your arms to help you drive; imagine that you are using ski poles to help you push through. As you reach about 90 percent of your top speed, relax and allow your body to decelerate. Jog for a minute or two, and then repeat another six or seven times. I like eight because you it gives a mile of running with the recovery jog.

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