As part of her graduate thesis, Amanda Turner split 18 distance runners into two groups. One group did a series of plyometric jumping exercises before their regular runs. The other group simply ran as usual.
After six weeks, the runners who did the plyometrics improved their running economy (the amount of oxygen you use when you run) by 4 percent. That means they used less oxygen to run the same speed, making running feel easier. That's good news, because even a small improvement in running economy can mean big improvements in running performance.
Here are three of the exercises the runners did. Before you do any of them, warm up by jumping lightly up and down 10 times with your feet close to the ground. After doing these exercises, your legs may be a little sore at first. That's fine. It means the exercises are working.
1. Bend your knees as much as you need to and then immediately jump as high as you can five to 15 times, taking a short break between jumps.
2. Bend one leg as much as possible, then jump as high as you can off of that leg. Land on both feet. Do this five to 10 times on each side, taking a short break after each jump.
3. Jump in a spring-like fashion about 6 to 8 inches off the ground 15 to 30 times without taking a break between jumps.