Whether you're a seasoned racer or just looking to crank up your cardio, we've got the training tips for any guy interested in lacing 'em up!

RUN FOR STRENGTH, SPEED, AND DISTANCE
Three approaches to guarantee big gains
RUN YOUR BEST RACE EVER
Breaking your own mark begins well before the starting line
STRETCH IT OUT
Improve flexibility and your performance
IMPROVE YOUR FORM
Nail your technique with these tips
EAT TO RUN
What you put in your tank will affect your running

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RUN FOR STRENGTH, SPEED, AND DISTANCE
Three approaches to guarantee big gains, courtesy of San Diego, CA, running coach Jason R. Karp, Ph.D.

Build Power
Running hills increases leg muscle power, rapidly increases heart rate, and uses the muscles of the legs, arms, and trunk in ways that are different from running on a flat surface. Hills can also be a painful nightmare. To make hills your bitch, get aggressive. Exaggerate your arm swing, lean into the hill, and focus on pushing o.. with the balls of your feet. As you near the summit, pump your arms to accelerate and lengthen your stride.

For a cardio-boosting workout: Run a half-mile hill (5% to 8% incline) four to five times at medium-fast pace; jog back down.

To increase leg power: Run a 200-meter hill eight times, running at medium-fast pace at the start and accelerating the last 50 meters; jog back down.

Gain Speed
By breaking your overall time goal into smaller segments, separated by periods of recovery, you can perform the whole set of work at a higher intensity. his helps you run stronger and faster.

Run four to five intervals of three to four minutes, at near-maximum heart rate, and with equal time jogging to recovery to increase your aerobic power. Sprint six to eight reps of 30 seconds to one minute, with double the time jogging in between to improve your speed.

Get Your Max: If you don't know your max heart rate, do a test. Run a mile, picking up speed until you're running all out to the end. Check your pulse in your neck immediately upon stopping. Count beats for 10 seconds and multiply by six.

Go Farther
Long runs (1 1/2 hours or more) severely lower your muscle glycogen—the stored form of carbs—and force muscles to rely on fat as fuel. Translation: You become a fat-burning machine! Low glycogen also stimulates your muscles to synthesize and store more glycogen during recovery, increasing your endurance.

Cap your long runs at about 30% of your total weekly mileage. Increase the distance you're covering by no more than one mile per day per week. New runners should run the same mileage for four weeks before increasing.

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RUN YOUR BEST RACE EVER
Breaking your own mark begins well before the starting line. Andrew Kastor, a marathon coach in Mammoth Lakes, CA, offers his strategy.

A Month Before The Race:
1 ) Run the course (or at least part of it) a couple of times. This is your mental rehearsal. If you can't get to the course ahead of time, familiarize yourself with a course map, then . nd a similar course in your area for practice.

2 ) Train at the same time as the start of the race. This will help set your body's schedule for eating and bathroom breaks.

3) Run a couple of "rust-busters," or shorter races. They help shake off the cobwebs, and you can learn what kind of shape you're in.

Day Before The Race:
1 ) Make sure everything you'll wear on race day—shoes, socks, cap—fits and works properly.

2 ) Check the weather forecast. If it's going to be cold on race morning, plan to wear lots of layers.

3) Relax. Stress and agitation waste energy. Figure out driving directions and any pre-race preparations needed. Breakfast, changing, shoes, bib number—have this stuff. gured out before hitting the sack. You'll sleep better—and run better as well.

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STRETCH IT OUT
Improve flexibility and your performance

Where?
Quads, hamstrings, calves, hip . exors, and pecs. Those are guys' trouble spots, says Andrew Kastor, a marathon coach in Mammoth Lakes, CA. Stretching these key areas will improve your posture, not just for running but for any activity.

Why?
Stretching before a workout will help increase the range of motion in joints (ankles, knees, hips). Doing it a. er your run will give your body a head start in the recovery process, resetting your muscle tissue to its resting length. This allows the blood to . ow back into the muscles to nourish damaged tissue and carry away metabolic waste.

When?
Do a few stretches five to eight minutes before a hard workout. Stretch again five to eight minutes after the workout.

How?
Most experts consider Active Isolated Stretching, or AIS, the best stretching strategy. It takes more practice than traditional stretching, but you'll stretch your muscles farther and more safely. AIS is a great warm-up for running because it stretches and contracts muscles, so you get loose and warm. And it's safe to do when your muscles are still "cold."

Do It:
In these AIS moves, you'll stretch target muscles while contracting the opposing muscles—the trick for a deeper stretch. Do eight to 10 reps on each side, holding each for two to three seconds.

1) Hamstring
Stand on one foot and raise your opposite leg with your knee bent so that your upper thigh is parallel to the ground. Hold your leg by grabbing it below the knee with both hands, brace your abs, and extend your lower leg as far as you can, then bend it.

2) Quadriceps
Lie on your right side with hips and knees bent 90 degrees. Hold your right knee down with your right hand and grab your left shin with the other hand. Pull your left leg behind you as much as you can.

3) Calf
Sit with your legs straight out in front. Loop a belt around the base of one foot. Lean forward slightly with your knees straight. Extend the ankle of the foot that's looped so you pull the top of your foot back toward your body. Use the belt to assist you. Release. Point your toes down.

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IMPROVE YOUR FORM
"The key to running faster is to conserve energy, which is where good form comes into play," says Jenny Hadfield, a running coach and coauthor of Running for Mortals. Nail your technique with these tips:

1) Relax Your Upper Body
Tension in your upper body makes breathing more challenging. Relax your shoulders. Swing your arms like a pendulum. Also, pretend you're holding something delicate to keep your hands from clenching.

2) Keep Hips Under Shoulders
Good alignment will increase efficiency. If you have tight hip flexors or unequal hip strength, you might have to do strength or stretching exercises to loosen up.

3) Use Quick, Short Strides
Every time you hit the ground, especially if you're a heel striker, you're stopping yourself, which drains your energy. Faster, shorter strides lessen that impact. Most runners do well at 180 strides per minute. To help you hit an ideal stride, try one of the free playlists at podrunner.com.

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EAT TO RUN
"Food is your fuel," says Cassie Dimmick, R.D., a board-certified sports dietitian in Springfield, MO. "What you put in your tank will a. ect your running, either positively or negatively." Follow these guidelines:

At Every Meal:
Shoot for a couple of healthy carbs (which means whole-grain breads, brown rice, or starchy veggies); at least one serving of lean protein (low-fat dairy, nuts, lean meats, or fish); and one small serving of healthy fat (olive oil, nuts, or nut butter).

Before Running:
Eat 30 minutes to three hours before, focusing on easily digested foods like fruit, whole grains, and a little protein. A small snack (one banana, or co. ee or tea with some honey and skim milk) five minutes before hitting the road can significantly improve performance.

After Running:
Within 30 minutes of stopping, nosh on healthy carbs and protein (about 10 grams). Good choices include 16 ounces low-fat chocolate milk or a smoothie with 1 1/2 cups frozen fruit, one cup skim milk, and one tablespoon flax seed.

Stay Hydrated:
Monitor your urine color throughout the day to make sure you're taking in enough water; if you're hydrated, it should be light yellow. When your runs are less than an hour, hydrate with water. For workouts ranging from one to four hours, switch to a sports drink.

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