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The benefits of plyometrics to your running speed

You're a runner and its getting tough. You don't seem to be getting any quicker, yet you are pounding the pavements 3-4 times per week. Surely this is enough? Not necessarily.....

A recent review of published papers, written up in the Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning looked at the benefits and effects of plyometric training on running economy (RE) and found that a 6 week programme of 1-3 sessions per week of plyometrics had a beneficial effect on long endurance runners (5K+). Specifically, runners who are not currently performing strength training, have not previously undertaken a structured plyometric training program or have not undertaken such a programme in the previous 3 months.

So lets look at what this is all about and exactly what training we should be doing to gain these benefits.

A number of physiological attributes contribute to successful long-distance running performance. Specifically, these include maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max), lactate threshold and RE.

RE has been defined as the steady-state oxygen consumption (VO2) at a given running velocity and reflects the energy demands of running at a constant submaximal speed.

Runners with superior RE expend less energy or consume less oxygen than runners with an inferior RE at the same steady-state running velocity.