Archive for February, 2019

Bouncing Your Way to a Faster Run

In our last blog IS TRAINING WITH WEIGHTS GOOD FOR RUNNING? – YOU DECIDE! we looked at the effects of training with weights and the impact if can have on running performance.

This week we want to take a step further and look at a specific type of strength training which is often underutilised by most runners – Plyometrics.

Since the 1970’s plyometrics, in their many different forms, have been the domain of sprinters and other power/explosive athletes. It was often deemed as unnecessary and even dangerous to undertake for distance runners, whether recreational or competitive.

But the research, and practical experience, are now telling us differently.


Plyometrics is an intense form of exercise. It is designed to increase strength in athletes through fast, repeated strengthening/contracting of the muscles. In its simplest form plyometics is jumping.


In short plyometric exercise, when combined appropriately with running training will improve performance levels resulting in improved times.

Plyometric training will:

  • Improve running economy
  • Improve muscle recruitment
  • Reduce time required for training
  • Potentially reduce the mileage you are required to complete


It’s always best to have a base level of strength and fitness before starting plyometric exercise. The ability to bodyweight squat (Air Squat) will be you have a degree of body control required.

It is very important :

  • NOT to go too hard too fast
  • NOT to perform too many reps (ground contacts) in each session/week
  • NOT to performance plyometric exercise on hard surfaces eg concrete
  • To progress gradually based on the way your body is responding at ground contact
  • To integrate your plyometrics into a properly periodised program
  • To listen to your body and its responses


The following exercises are a selection from which you could choose. It is important to consider your phase of training, previous strength training experience and your stability/mobility limitations.

After a thorough warm up choose some of these:

  1. Squat Jumps – place hands on hips. Drop down into a ½ Squat position, hold momentarily then explode upwards, jumping as high as you can. As you land be sure to absorb the impact of the ground, controlling your landing. Reset and repeat. Do 2-3 sets of 4-8 jumps. A variation on this may be do the jumps in each set continuously rather than resetting after each jump.
  2. High Skips – do an exaggerated explosive skip where you focus on height rather than distance. Do 2-3 sets of 12-20 skips
  3. Jumping Lunge – start in a lunge position with one leg in front.  Keeping chest upright, jump explosively into the air and change the position of your legs – landing in a controlled lunge position with the opposite foot forward. Do 2-3 sets of 3-5 jumps per leg.
  4. Single Leg Push Offs – Stand with one foot resting on top of a box and the other foot immediately beside the box. Thigh should be almost parallel to the ground. Drive the foot down hard into the box propelling yourself upwards. Return in a controlled landing to the start position. Reset and repeat. Do 3-4 sets of 3-5 jumps per leg
  5. Pogos  (2 foot ankle hop) – Bounce with minimal bending of the knees. Do 2-3 sets of 5-15 jumps
  6. Bounding – from a standing start (or with a slight walk-in) run with long exaggerated strides aiming for both distance and height. Drive the front leg back down so that the font foot does not land in front of your centre of mass. Do 1-3 sets of 6-12 bounds

For more information on how Strength and Conditioning programmes can help you improve your sporting performance go to


Over the years I have had many engaging debates with runners and coaches over training programmes, best approaches to improvement and adjusting training as we age.  In the end we ended always seem to come back to three conundrums that are all intertwined:

  1. Hitting a plateau in your running is tough (and hard to break out of). This is appears to be doubly true as we age and our previous bests seem to disappear deep into the distance
  2. Many runners work by the maxim – “if some is good then more MUST be better”. The logic appears to be that if I can increase my mileage by X percent then surely my “fitness” will improve and my times will drop.
  3. Gym work “myths”:
    • takes up time that could be better spent running
    • makes me big and bulky (not conducive to running)
    • makes me too sore to run well


Beattie. K. et al (2016) did an examination of a 40 week strength training programme used on competitive distance runners. Their major finds where that:

  • there were significant increases on maximal strength and reactive strength
  • running economy improved
  • vVO2 (velocity at maximal oxygen uptake) improved
  • the above improvements occurred without an associated hypertrophy

Damasceno, MV. et al (2015) found that after 8 weeks of strength training twice a week runners improved their speed to in the “middle to end phases” of a 10km run – the result of which was a better overall performance.

Tiapale, RS. et al (2010) studied recreational runners and found that strength training 1-3 times per week for 28 weeks elicited an improvement in VO2 Max for these runners.


If we head back to our original 3 conundrums and look at them in terms of the research we can find that:

  • Strength training can improve running performance
  • Increasing mileage is not necessarily the only way to improve performance
  • Choosing gym sessions and running sessions may in fact maximise performance rather than diminish it.


  1. Make regular use of a gym
  2. Set aside regular training time for strength training
  3. Find a qualified and experience strength coach to guide you in integrating strength training into your training programme
  4. Keep an eye out for our upcoming blog on how to utilise plyometrics in your strength programme to further boost your running performance.

For more information on how Strength and Conditioning programmes can help you improve your sporting performance go to