A simple ten minute drill, once a week, can help runners improve by running more efficiently. In just a few weeks most runners notice that they feel smoother, run with less effort, and often run faster.
The acceleration-glider drill (Acg) is also a great warm up before a race, a speed session, or any run during which you expect to run faster than you normally run. After you have had a gentle warmup that works for you, ease into the drill. I like to get a massage in my Human Touch massage chair before I start running, then walk for 3-5 minutes. The first 10 minutes of running are done gently, with more walk breaks than are usually taken. Then I’m ready for the Acg’s.
1) Jog slowly for 10-15 steps
2) Jog faster for 10-15 steps
3) Gradually pick up the pace for 15-20 steps-no sprinting
4) Then, let your momentum carry you as you gradually slow down for 30-50 steps
Mechanically, you should experience a slight stride length reduction that allows each foot to line up directly underneath the body. As momentum rolls you forward, the ankle/achilles tendon unit becomes a very efficient spring that does most of the work of running, without using hardly any muscle resources.
After each of these Acg’s, walk for 30 seconds, then jog slowly and start all over again. After you have been doing this drill for 6 months you probably won’t need to walk, and can move right into the next drill.
It’s important to do this once a week. If you wait 2 weeks you will lose some of the adaptations and will not continue progressing as you could.
It may take you several sessions to get the “gliding” technique. Some days you will glide better than others. But if you keep doing this drill, each week, you will find yourself intuitively gliding on downhills, when running in races, during speed sessions or on everyday runs. Each glide saves resources and breaks up the constant continuous motion that can increase fatigue.
Acg’s have been the best transition between slow “warmup” running and the faster pace you need for a race or speed workout. The object is to gradually increase the pace of each of the accelerations so that the last one is done at the pace you will be running in the race/workout.
Many runners use the Acg’s during the middle of a midweek run, to break up the continuous slow running. This gives that run a “mission” and injects fun with purpose.
Advance runners use Acg’s in races as a strategy. They can run up behind a competitor and glide for several segments, saving the legs and feet. Then, when the timing is right, pass the runner ahead using the resources saved from the gliding.
Warm down: I recommend that after the Acg’s, ease down into a gentle jog for 10 minutes (with as many walk breaks as you wish). Finish with 5-10 minutes of walking gently, and then a gentle massage if possible. I usually finish as I started–with 15 minutes in the Human Touch massage chair.
Note: Olympian Jeff Galloway has coached over a million runners through his running schools, beach and Tahoe retreats, books and training programs-which are fun and offer individualized coaching from Jeff. Subscribe to his free newsletter and blog at www.RunInjuryFree.com