(The following descriptions and explanations are taken from Jeff's books "Boston Marathon: How to Qualify" and "Training Programs.")
WHY DO ACCELERATION GLIDERS?
Acceleration Gliders train the muscles to "shift gears" when needed, so that you are ready for any challenge [this refers to the acceleration portion]. They also help you practice coasting to save muscle resources while maintaining speed [this is the glide portion].
This drill is a gentle form of speed play, or fartlek. By doing it regularly, you develop a range of speeds, with the muscle conditioning to move smoothly from one speed to the next. The greatest benefit comes as you learn how to "glide," or coast off your momentum.
1. Done on a non-long run day, in the middle of a shorter run, or as a warm-up for hills, a speed session or a race -- or a MM.
2. Warm up with at least half a mile of easy running.
3. Start with 2 to 3 gliders and increase by one or two each session to a maximum of 8.
4. Do this at least once a week.
5. No sprinting -- never run all out.
HOW TO DO ACCELERATION GLIDER DRILLS
1. Start by jogging very slowly for about 10-15 steps. Then jog faster for about 10-15 steps -- increasing to a regular running pace for you. Now, over the next 15-25 steps, gradually increase the speed to your current race pace. The best way to do this is to shorten stride length and gradually increase the turnover of your feet and legs (turnover is simply the number of steps you take per minute.)
2. OK, now it's time to glide, or coast. To do this, stop accelerating but don't put on the brakes. Try to let your momentum carry you forward (this takes practice -- everyone feels awkward at first). Allow yourself to gradually slow down to a jog, using momentum as long as you can - try for 10-20 steps or more.
3. To imagine what gliding feels like, think about what it feels like to run downhill with gravity/momentum pulling you along.
4. Rest by jogging between accelerations, taking walk breaks as needed.
5. One of these sessions per week will help to mechanically reinforce form improvements, which will help you in the race itself.
6. Don't sweat this or worry about "doing it wrong." There will be some weeks when you will glide longer than others, or maybe not at all. But by doing this drill regularly, you will find yourself coasting or gliding down the smallest of inclines and even for 10-20 yards on the flat. Gliding down hills conserves energy and reduces soreness and fatigue while helping you to maintain a faster race pace.
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