If you are wondering how important plyometric training for distance running is, if important at all, here is your answer.
Plyometric exercises are very important for distance runners. They will help you to improve your running times and make you stronger, however, in all probability the most advantageous benefit for many runners, is that a well-planned plyometric schedule, can allow for mileage reductions in training. And who doesn’t want to get faster by running less miles?
Experts suggest that this advantage comes from the runner’s increased capacity to turn their legs over faster, push off harder, maximize muscle recruitment and benefit from an improved stretch-shortening cycle (the absorption to push off), which occurs on each stride on foot-strike. All this contributes to improved running economy and speedier clockings.
In Japan, researchers studied a group of runners over an 8-week period: the first group followed their normal running program, while the other group included plyometric training in their routine. The results showed that both groups considerably reduced their running times, but the plyometric group ran 25 miles less every week.
For beginners it’s advisable that during a plyometric training session no more than 80-100 foot contacts are made (so if you do 3 x 10 jump squats, that would be 30 contacts). Intermediate athletes can increase this to 100-120 and advanced athletes shouldn’t exceed 140.
Keep in mind that plyometric training puts a substantial amount of stress on the body. If you are new to this kind of training, find a professional who can advise you on how to incorporate it into your workout routine.
It’s also advisable that you start with only one session a week. Great plyometric exercises include jumps on the spot (such as straight leg jumps), jump squats and lateral jumps. Moving forwards jumps include hops and bounds (power strides).