Logging more miles, tempo runs, sprint intervals. These are well recognized ways to build speed when you’re training for a PR. But, have you ever considered adding exercises outside of running to boost your pace?
Plyometric training is a fun way to increase your speed. These explosive exercises increase your VO2 Max and improve your running economy, which many studies have proven to improve the pace of participating runners.
As Jeff Gaudette explains to Competitor.com: “One of the most important functions of muscles and tendons in running is to store energy. Like a pogo stick, your body can store energy from impact and then release it to propel your body forward. As such, a large portion of your propulsive energy actually comes from the energy stored in your legs from impact previously made with the ground.”
Plyometric exercises are high impact, creating a lot of force on the joints. Because of this, it’s recommended to have a solid strength and conditioning foundation before adding these intense exercises into your routine.
I recommend adding 1-2 plyometric sessions a week, in addition to strength training, depending on how demanding your training plan is. Put these exercises after your hardest workout – speed intervals, tempo runs, etc. – as similar muscle recruitment patterns are used.
Here are some of my favorite plyometric exercises:
Stand in front of a box or step in an athletic stance. Jump to land squarely on the box, stepping or jumping back down to starting position.
Standing on a step or box, jump down, landing softly with knees bent, and immediately jump directly up.
In an athletic stance with knees slightly bent, laterally launch off of right foot, landing on left foot. Immediately launch back to the right foot.
Standing with feet squared and forward, bend and the knees and jump forward with both feet as far as possible. If the room is large, do another one from there, or take a few steps backwards and repeat.
Stand with feet squared forward, bend at the knees and jump directly up, bringing knees towards chest.
Perform a static lunge with right foot in front, from the bottom of the lunge, jump up, switching feet and landing in a lunge with left foot forward.
Perform these exercises in a circuit for either repetitions or time.
- Do 8-12 box jumps, recover just long enough to do 8-12 vertical depth jumps and so on until you complete the circuit.
- Perform box jumps for 30 seconds, rest for 10 seconds and move on to vertical depth jumps for 30 seconds, and so on.
Complete this circuit 1-3 times depending on how much of an athletic base you have built. If you are new to these types of exercises – or new to exercising in general – start with one circuit and slowly build your endurance. As always, clear these types of exercises with your doctor.
Writing from Copenhagen, Denmark, Dan is an entrepreneur, husband and ultramarathon distance runner. He spends most of his time on runnerclick.com and nicershoes.com. He has been featured on runner blogs all over the world.
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