By Carrie Lane, Director of Sport Performance
So how does the addition of a speed and power regimen improve your running economy? Running— even at slow paces— involves a series of plyometric (stretch reflex) actions throughout the body’s connective and muscle tissue. Through high velocity, low volume plyometric power training—i.e. a little of Usain Bolt- style workouts—your soft tissue stretches to a fuller range of motion and absorbs greater impact than during low velocity, limited range-of-motion running. Plyometric training such as sprinting, strength training, and even dynamic stretching, accelerates tissue adaptation and helps your body improve its muscle recruitment patterns. Over time, the body then implements its learned efficiency to slower speeds, thus impacting your running economy and improving tissue health.
While you may not think of yourself as “speedy”, sprint and power training will actually impact your overall efficiency and tissue health during those long endurance runs you love so much.
Click here for a sample strength training workout designed to take your joints and muscle tissue through high ranges of motion and faster velocities than what you achieve in your daily runs.
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US Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier, Ben Payne, performs a series of plyometric hurdle hops after a workout.
1 Effects of plyometric training on endurance and explosive strength performance in competitive middle- and long-distance runners Rodrigo Rami Rez-Campillo, Cristian Alvarez, Carlos Henri Quez-Olguin, Eduardo B. Biaz, Cristian Martinez, David C Andrade, and Mike Izquierdo J of Strength and Conditioning Research 28(1): 97-104, 2014
2 Explosive-strength training improves 5-km running time by improving running economy and muscle power Leena Paavolainen, Keijo Häkkinen, Ismo Hämäläinen, Ari Nummela and Heikki Rusko J Appl Physiol 86:1527-1533, 1999.
3 Faster top running speeds are achieved with greater ground forces not more rapid leg movements Peter G. Weyand, Deborah B. Sternlight, Matthew J. Bellizzi and Seth Wright
J Appl Physiol 89:1991-1999, 2000.