A simple, yet highly effective, training activity is to do something called running “strides” a few times per week. It only takes 5-10 minutes and they are perfect to do at or near the end of your runs (or as part of a warmup for races or intense workouts).
They are short running accelerations to nearly full-speed followed by full recovery, and the primary goal is to improve efficiency through neuromuscular stimulation and adaptation. Said another way, short bouts of fast running helps your brain learn to fire running muscles more effectively.
To perform running strides, find a flat spot that it at least 100 meters long. It can be road, grass, or some other soft surface, but make sure footing is solid and the surface is smooth. You’ll start with a brisk jog that quickly accelerates into a fast run. Focusing on perfect form, arm movement, posture and breathing, you’ll continue accelerating to a speed that feels about 95% of a full sprint. You’ll then slowly decelerate, continuing to focus on your form. The whole effort will take you about 80-120 meters and be over in less than 15 seconds.
That counts as one stride. Now, you’ll walk back to where you started (ensuring a full recovery). When you are ready, you’ll repeat the run acceleration again just like before. It is best to do at least four strides and it is fine to do as many as ten (but six is sufficient).
Strides should feel good. When you are starting out, you’ll want to keep them easy. The speed will increase the more you practice as long as you are patient. And we repeat, strides should feel good!