To be at peak performance and minimal injury risk, strength training should be an integral part of all running programs. For your strength training to be effective, you should should be specific and deliberate when choosing your exercises.
Past research shows that plyometric training can cause neuromuscular adaptation, meaning that you can improve how much of the muscle is recruited to do something and how quickly it reacts, of a higher level than other forms of strength training. In 2010, a study was conducted to determine how different types of strength training affected running performance. Endurance runners were divided into three groups: a control group, a group on a plyometric program, and a group doing dynamic weight training. All of the runners completed the same 8 week running schedule, but the plyometric group and the dynamic weight training group also each had one additional session in their respective categories.
Results showed that the plyometric group developed greater efficiency in their running, using approximately 7% less energy than during baseline testing. The dynamic weight training group improved too, but only by 4%. This suggests that a plyometric strength program, especially one that focuses more on intensity than volume, may be worth some extra time in your weekly training schedule. More efficient running = decreased injury risk and improved performance!
Erryman NIB Aurel DEM. “Effect of plyometric vs. dynamic weight training on the energy cost of running”. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 2010; 24(7): 1818-1825.
Dr. Cathlin Fitzgerald, DPT, CSCS
Tyler Denn-Thiele, SPT