Add this exercise into your routine and use less energy to run.
Running is a form of jumping. So it’s not surprising that jumping exercises—also known as plyometrics—have been shown to improve running performance. Specifically, jumping exercises enable the leg to function as a stiffer spring when the foot makes contact with the ground during running. As a result, it takes less energy to run.
The box jump is an effective jumping exercise that many runners use. To do it, you need a sturdy platform that you can jump on and off—preferably one that’s height-adjustable, like an aerobics step. The optimal height depends on your height and jumping ability, but most people find their sweet spot between 12 and 24 inches.
Face the step while standing on your right foot only with your left knee slightly bent. Squat down slightly as you naturally do when jumping for height and leap onto the box, landing on your right foot. You may also find it natural to swing your arms back and then forward while jumping. Immediately jump backward down to the floor, again landing on your right foot. Complete 10 to 12 jumps and then do 10 to 12 more on your other leg.
This piece first appeared in the October 2011 issue of Competitor Magazine.