Adding plyometrics for runners is the best way to take your running workouts even more beneficial for fitness with minimal time on task. Plyometric exercises are any kind of exercise, that requires muscles to perform at their highest intensity for a short amount of time; they are usually somewhat explosive and powerful. 30 seconds of a good plyometric exercise will get your heart nearly beating out of your chest!

Why are plyometrics for runners an excellent idea?

Plyometric workouts are such a perfect addition to your running routine because of their intense and explosive nature. Runners want to have strong muscles. However, a runner might hesitate to start lifting heavy weights because they don’t want to bulk up. Gaining 10 lbs of muscle might seem great to some athletes, but not to an endurance athlete! So, what can a runner do to increase the strength and power of their muscles without bulking up? Plyometrics. Because the intense and explosive nature of plyometric exercises only requires an individual to move their own body weight, power and strength increases will come without the muscle bulk. Endurance Athlete, Brendan Brazier talks about this in his book, Thrive Fitness.

Extra Bonus of Plyometric Exercises for Runners

You might loose a pound or two integrating plyometrics into your running routine. Lets think about this. Running is an aerobic cardiovascular exercise. So, as you run more, your body actually becomes more efficient at running. This means that the energy it took you to run a mile a month ago, is less than the energy it is taking you to run a mile now, that means burning fewer calories while running. This is why many people plateau who use running as a weight loss strategy. Their body becomes so good at running efficiently, that the exercise no longer requires so much energy, thus, they burn fewer calories running the same distance. Since I am a high school English teacher, and not a trainer! Here is a Runner’s World Article that addresses this.

Where Did I Learn My Plyometric Exercises?

High School! Lol! For the first 6 years as a runner, I was fortunate to have outstanding track and cross country coaches.  They were so good that my freshman year in high school, 1996, they were actually invited to the Olympics in Atlanta, GA to volunteer at the track and field events.

The running plyometric workout I do today is basically the warm up we did for high school track! That’s right, I would do this, then go run another 5 or 6 miles! Ugh, to be 16 again! And, yes I actually remember my entire high school track warm up routine.

How Long is This Workout?

This track workout covers a distance of 4.25 miles, but you are only ‘running’ a little over half of that distance, the rest you are walking. That’s right my friend, walking. Hooray!  If you are not a huge fan of running distances, then this workout is perfect, because at no point in the workout will you need to ‘run’ longer than 100 meters at a time. I put running in quotation marks, because the movements you will do are not actually running.

So, my friends, find yourself a track or a soccer field or a football field, behind middle schools and high schools is a good place to look!  Here is the routine:

4.25 mile Plyometrics for Runners Track Workout

This workout is assuming that the distance of the track is 400 meters. If you are using a soccer or football field, then the length of that will be around 100 meters. There is a video demonstrating all of the exercises below.

  1. Lap 1 and 2: Walk (That is .5 miles, 800 meters, or 10 minutes. All about the same.)
  2. Lap 3 and 4: Light run (Make sure you have good form, check out this post for more info about good form.)
  3. Moving stretches like high knees in place, swing your legs, open your hips, and lightly twist your trunk.
  4. Lap 5: high/power skip the straightaway and walk (or jog if you are a beast!) the curves.
  5. Lap 6: high knees the straightaway and walk the curves.
  6. Lap 7: speed skaters the straightaway and walk the curves
  7. Lap 8: bounding sprint the straightaway and walk the curves
  8. Lap 9-12: build up sprint the straightaway and walk the curves (These might make you feel like throwing up, it is OK! More on this below.)
  9. Lap 13: grapevine right and left side the straightaway and walk the curves
  10. Lap 14: side skip the straightaway and walk the curves (again, both sides)
  11. Lap 15: butt kicks 100 meters, walk 100, run backwards 100 meters walk 100.
  12. Lap 16-17: walk


Modification 1: Laps 5, 6, 7, and 8 can be condensed into just 2 laps instead of 4, by only doing each exercise once instead of twice. 

Modification 2: Cut back on the number of sprint laps you do.

Why Does Sprinting Make Me Feel Like Puking?

Sprinting is such an intense activity that it causes blood to flood to the muscles. When so much of your blood floods into the muscles, it leaves other places in your body, like the digestive system. This sudden lack of blood in your digestive system is what causes the “I’m going to puke” sensation you might get after a 100% sprint effort. Here is a Wikipedia article that explains it more in depth!

I hope you can benefit from these plyometrics for runners exercises! I know that I really enjoy working a good track workout into my regular running routine. It provides so much different and varied movement that I know my fitness level greatly improves with these plyometric exercises.

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