Use Run Form Drills and Plyometrics to Become an Injury-Free Monster

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If you want to become an injury-free run monster and learn everything about doing running form drills and plyometrics for strength, power and better form – then you should listen to this episode of DLake Creates.

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I’ve been doing running plyometrics and form drills for almost 25 years now and I love them! I decided to create a few videos showing more runners how to do them and also wanted to explain the blockers as to why runners don’t do them.

Hopefully, you get inspired to become a run injury free monster!

For plyometric video, links go to – @DLakeCreates

What You Will Learn

  • Everything you need to know about running drills and plyometrics will increase your strength and injury resistance. Why so many runners don’t do them and how to fix that.
  • New science and information have proven that they work for short distance, long-distance and endurance runners, cyclists and triathletes. The five basic form drills that I use in my warmups, workouts, and cooldowns. The all-important – WHEN to do them, and more!

Example Workout

  • WORKOUT: Do these 5 form drills and 2 plyometrics workouts with 2 sets for 10 seconds
  • REST: Rest time 20-30 seconds or more (2-3 times the amount it took you to do them. Goal isn’t to do them as fast as possible but with the most amount of energy and best form).
  • STOP: Stop the workout if you can’t finish a set or your form is suffering
  • DURATION: The workout shouldn’t go longer than 10 minutes (for intermediates – see beginner and expert variations below)
  • BEGINNER VARIATION: Just do 1 set of each (set will be about 5 minutes)
  • EXPERT VARIATION: Experts can add another set, make the sets longer (15-2 seconds), add more exercises (same amount 2 sets), do these single-legged, or even do these all on a hill (the steeper the hill the harder the workout). This will take the set out to 15-20 minutes

Episode Quotes

  • “The reason most runners don’t do plyometrics and form drills is that it’s just another thing, it’s hard, they don’t know how. I’ll show you” – Daren
  • “These are a type of neuromuscular exercises that enhance the communication between your brain or legs. so that if you get tired in a race or workout you’re better able to maintain proper running form” – Jason Fitzgerald
  • “Lifting weights is one way to build strength. Form Drills, Plyometrics and Sprints are another.” – Daren
  • “Strength is speed. Strength is power. Strength is strength.” – Steph Rothstein

Episode Links

Original Music Used Here

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Transcription is 90% accurate. Apologies for any and all errors.

Daren: Hey, Daren here. So I’m trying this new thing where I tell you really quick, what you need to know about the episode, right in the beginning. If you do anything, just listen to the next 45 seconds or so let’s quickly go into the what, why and how

What are running form drills and plyometrics?

There are workouts and exercises that can be used one as dynamic warmups, and two as a standalone workout.

Why are they important?

They build running power, which obviously is strength and speed, and also economy running economy and running efficiency. So better form, which means you run faster with less energy.

So how do you do them?

There’s five of them, running form drills that I’ll be showing you via  videos. And then also some plyometric stuff that I’ll go through later on. You can get those over the next few weeks.

Those five are it’s ankle over drills, knee over drills, a-skips, butt skips (kicks), high knees. The butts skips (kicks)high knees are actually a variation.

So the question, of all questions – why don’t most runners do them?

And that’s what I’ll attempt to answer in this podcast.

What is up I’m Daren. Your host of DLake Creates Running for masters of some.

The Internet’s most exciting endurance sports podcast

Through self-improvement we help serious endurance athletes master some of the health,some of their fitness and even some of their life, because it’s all the same. And in being your host, you could trust me because I’m a lifelong endurance athlete, that’s ran a sub three hour marathon, completed an iron man triathlon in 10 hours, and currently trying to break 16 minutes in the 5k. So I’d say that I know a lot of things about some of the stuff that we talk about.

Quick warning. We use some adult language and cuss a bit. Be mindful who is around when you listen.

In this episode, I’ll go through a more in depth of the what, why, when, where, how, and even who of running form drills, running specific plyometrics and strength training to help you become injury free monster.

This is an episode full of a shit ton of information that has taken me like close to 25 years to figure out I’ve seen personal gains in strength, speed, gait, stride, and even with injury prevention. I’ll be sampling various bits of information from YouTube and getting run experts and coaches to tell all angles of this story.

Let’s get in to the show.

All right. Here’s a quick story. So it’s early on in my endurance training career and I decided to run far and a lot without any strength training.  I did. All right, until I decided to start training for my Ironman in 2016.

So injury after injury, going to physios, which are physical therapists  in Australia.

And they tell me, ” Hey Daren, your lack of flexibility and strength in some of your. Small muscles and connective tissue might lead to injuries later on, especially as you get older” I ignored them all. 

Then I attempted about six months later, the end of 2016 to run my own DIY, which we call virtual now marathon with a couple of people.

And I had one of the most painful and terrible experiences of my endurance career, sharp pains from a weak it band issue. And it just was not fun. I was over it and I decided to take my strength more seriously, my strength training along with some body fat loss. Cause I ended up gaining some weight, thinking that my fitness would just carry on by me eating whatever I wanted to.

That’s for another episode. So a few specialists later and more aches and pains and minor injuries. And I stumbled upupon Ben Liddy.  At central physio. He’s a running  physio slash physical therapist.  And he’s also a very elite runner. He runs  I think a 14 minute 5k still, and he’s almost 40  shout outs to Ben Liddy and Sydney.

 He shows me a bunch of plyometric exercises and in my kind of rehab and prehab, and guess what most of my aches and pains are now gone.  Let’s fast forward to the present and do to like literally a hundred other variables. My podiatrist Trent and Sigrid over at Balmain sports center. They’ve also helped me and Kenny Son my personal trainer.

But yeah, let’s focus on plyometrics and running form drills for this episode.

All right. So why do we need to do form drills and plyometrics? Let’s back it up a sec and get back to the basics. Most people don’t have great running form and if they do, they either worked on it or were born with a perfect gait.

Let’s focus on that. First one, the people who worked on the gate form and stride I’ll flick it over to coach Sage Canaday of YouTube VO two max productions. He’ll give a couple of tips on what you should be thinking about. When it comes to proper running.

Sage Canaday (V02 Max Productions): Don’t worry too much about your foot strike being a forefoot strike or a heel strike, rather focus on landing with your whole foot underneath your body.

On impact. Again, back to the legs like wheels analogy you want, imagine that your feet are  rolling over the ground and that when your foot is coming down into contact with the ground, it’s already parallel to the ground. You don’t want it. Pointing upwards too much. What you want to avoid is an actual nasty heel strike, where you’re landing too far in front of your center of mass.

You want to make sure that foot is landing underneath your body, or even, almost imagine it landing behind your body as you move over the ground.

Daren: Thanks.

So what are they exactly?  Let’s define the difference of the three. So there’s a form drills, there’s plyometrics, and then there’s strength training.

 And they  all interweave, but let’s for the sake of this podcast, define the three here’s Jason Fitzgerald of the YouTube channel strength running. to  talk more specifically on what form drills imply metrics do,

Jason Fitzgerald: These are a type of neuromuscular exercise that enhance the communication between your brain and your legs.

So then when you get tired at the end of a long run race or challenging workout, you’re better able to maintain proper running form. They also serve as a really great warmup before a challenging workout or a race.

Daren: Perfect definition, Jason, then there’s plyometrics and there’s crossover.  Some plyometrics are like running form drills.

So you can do running form drills and plyometrics.  But plyometrics are basically jumping exercises, they’re jumping type workout.  And then there’s strength training and that’s more the traditional lifting weights  heavy weights  five to 10 reps, whatever you need to do, but through form drills and plyometric, you can.

Do strength training. So it is a form of strength training.   Yeah, that’s  a weird area  moving forward, you can do a mixture of form drills, plyometrics, and strength training, and they can all serve each other in different ways. So there’s  a thousand different variations. Again, they can be used as warmups, as standalone strength sessions, and   they’re just like, boom, you do this.

This is helping you strengthen. This type of tendon or ligament or whatever it is, or  this muscle group, then they also can be standalone workouts. If you increase the resistance or  you do more sets and you do more, more reps  and going uphill actually make them extremely difficult. So let’s  back up the history of the word plyometrics.

I was like  I’ve been saying plan, should I be doing plyometrics for. Actually since I was about 15 with basketball and soccer coach came in and showed us how to do these  they’re, they were specific for basketball. So now I’m doing running plyometrics. So there’s also specific different plyometrics for different sports.

For high jump for gymnastics. The word plyometrics is also known as jump training or pliers are exercises in which muscles exert maximum force in short intervals of time with the goal of increasing power. So with running that’s speed and strength, this training focuses on learning to move from a muscle extension to a contraction in a rapid explosive manner, such as in specialized repeated jumping plyometrics are primarily used by athletes.

 Especially martial artists, like I was saying, sprinters high jumpers two and for performance and    fitness, general fitness. They really don’t need yoga people. Aren’t going to really do plyometrics.  They don’t need to, but runners as of the last, there’s been some studies and in 2006 there was a really big study.

With elite runners that showed big improvements in VO two max big improvements in short sprints and overall running economy and running form and efficiency and time to exhaust exhaustion. So that’s where all this  new science and new information over the last 15 years. I’ll flick it over to Heather fel from global triathlon network.

And she’ll help me define a bit more what plyometrics are and what they do.

Heather Fell (Global Triathlon Network): Plyometric exercises are loading your muscles with your body weight whilst they’re lengthened, and then expecting them to shorten as fast as possible. Repeatedly putting this forceful contraction on your muscles, it’s going to result in them getting stronger.

Daren: Thanks Heather! Fun fact, the term plyometric is a combination of Greek roots. That means to increase measurement. Plyo means more and a metric means length. So again, I did not know that until I decided to do these videos. And I was like, you know what? I should find out what the hell plyometric means.

So the $50 million question, why most runners don’t do them?

I think, and I  I’ll say this is just a random sample from what I’ve seen. It’s another fucking thing, right?  Oh my God   I got to sort out my shoes  I’m a new runner around, I even, I  I know elite runners or sub elite runners that do this shit  they run seven days a week and it’s just like another thing I got to go to the strength I got to go, my podiatrist gotta make sure I got the right socks.

The    gear, gear gear. Even running has a lot of gear. You got to stretch  I got to do yoga. I got to make sure I’m eating right. Getting the supplements, if you’re into supplements  another damn thing I got to do form drills and plyometrics on top of my warmups. So totally get it.

That’s one thing. Number two, it’s fucking hard. Like  they’re not fun. I  liked them, but.  They zap you  you  the drills are  anywhere from five to 15 seconds  each kind of interval or set or interval not set, but  I need 30 seconds to recover. 20, 30 seconds of recover.

 It’s weird. It’s totally not natural. If you’ve been running distance, you’re   your whole life, the last few years, 10 years, 20 years, the third things you don’t know how you know, it’s like, Oh man, plyometrics. I don’t know how it  goes back to that. Another thing, but not knowing how and the last one I can help you and I’ll explain how to do them.

So yeah, with that last one  I can help you  if you don’t know how this is the whole point  I’ve actually done a video series on form drills. I will do one  in the near future on plyometrics. There’s literally millions of variations, not millions, but there’s probably hundreds.  I keep seeing different ones in different variations of them.

So I’ll let you know next on how to actually do them and why you should be doing them. So stay tuned.

 Why you do them? A lot of current theories and thought frames are based around this one study that I talked about earlier with the 15 elite distant runner distance runners and from running that study found that after nine weeks of plyometric training runners showed a 4.1% improvement in running economy.

Okay. At five minutes, 20 seconds mile pace. That’s a for you metric people cause I’m metric. Now, living here in Australia, that is about  three 23, 15, three 20 pace  and a non-significant trend toward improvement at the six to seven mile pace. So six miles is about three 50 minutes per kilometer. And seven minute pace is about.

Four 15, my numbers could be off three 42 about four, four, 15, four 20 minute. Pace is what they’re talking about. So the authors interpreted this as an indication that plyometric training is more beneficial at higher speeds. Since the impact forces are much higher, that’s what we have via science. Now real-world applications are always different.

That was a group of  Elite athletes.  How does this apply to amateurs? So they actually just studied before that with amateurs and that study showed crazy improvements. But with amateurs, the problem is  noon runners. They always have a high learning curve.  Sorry, a quick  they learn, they get fast very quickly.

So elite to  better because. They don’t get faster and better as quickly. They’re  at the end of their range. And it’s just   implementing small things. One theory is shorter. Ground contact, time YouTuber and pro runner SEF. James Demore talks a bit about that,

Seth James De Moor: But, what I am, frankly, almost even more interested in than power is cadence and turnover. And how quickly can you move your feet  through the foot strike on the ground?

 With less ground contact and lighter ground contact. And you hear me talking about dancing on the trails up in the mountains. It’s like that nimbleness, just that light on your feet, feel that I think can really help  with your speed as well.

Daren: I couldn’t have said it any better myself. Thanks Seth! 

One was froma run coach in Arizona it will be in the show notes and  all right.

Future Daren here with the power of Google and now know the coach’s name. It is Ben Rosario of the Northern Arizona elite run club. He is a legend. Future Daren out.

And  it’s basically why this is important from everyone that runs the a hundred meter dash Usain bolt, too.  Marathoners and  kept Shogi and even Ironman runners   they’re doing it in seven, eight, nine hours.  And Y plyometrics are good for them. One theory is you become a better athlete and better athletes move more efficiently and have better form and then get injured less.

So  that’s one theory. It’s like a holistic you’re basically improving. All of your connective tissue, tendons, ligaments, all the small minor stuff, everything starts firing better. And then when you go to do your  slow to medium runs, your tempo runs, your marathon runs, whatever it is that you’re your body’s ready for the longer distance.

Cause you can handle that. The second theory is from again, Ben Liddy, my, my running physical therapist, shout out to central physio and Sydney. I’m misquoting him here    hacking it up. So Ben goes, look pliers without running. So you just do plyometrics and you never run. You won’t get fast cause you have to run, but if you run without pliers, so it’s the whole  the people I’m talking to that need to do plyometrics, you’ll get fast, but you’ll get to a point where you might get injured as you increase.

Your distance or your speed or both, you most likely would get injured because most people keep  going and then they get injured. But if you run and you do pliers kinda makes you unstoppable  to a point, obviously you still need to do a proper strength routine. I’m not saying you should substitute not going to the gym.

You got to do all of them. It’s again, it’s a holistic approach to everything. Everything is in connection with everything you need to be doing. Deep squats need to be doing  proper dead lifts.  You need to be doing lunges. You need to be doing core work planks, all that type of stuff. I even do some upper body with  pull-ups and seated incline bench with dumbbells, but we’re not talking about strength training.

We’re talking about plyometric, but to get to plyometrics again. You need to build strength. So actually we are going back to plyometrics before the, how we need to know when to do these. Again here says James Demore on when he thinks you should start doing them.

Seth James De Moor: I do not believe in jumping right into plyometrics at the beginning of a training block, which my training blocks started in January.

And so over the last month, yes. See me building up my ankle strength in my foot strength in my house, just in my living room  before coming to this field out here  to begin the plyometric exercises, because listen, you can injure yourself with plyometrics and they will beat your legs up if you’re not careful.

And if you’re not used to them  especially if you’re doing them incorrectly.

Daren: So have a base first, if you’re a beginner and that’s a base, that means  make sure you run easy for  four to eight weeks. I’d say 12 weeks. If you’re a  really hardcore, make sure you do these on easy days or you do them before your hard workouts.

I like to do them before I do Hills. Because then it really gets my body ready for the impact of the Hills. And   it’s a lot of stress  on the lower body, Achilles, plantar, fasciitis, all that calves. So it  gets me ready for the Hills and ends up being more stress. Sure. You are injury free.

So even if you have a. Small nagging issue. The force of all of these plyometrics will hurt you. So these are not to be fucked with like you  if you’re an Achilles hurts, this will make it worse.  You are not making sure that you’re in a good state or you’re managing it. So don’t try to do these and get better.

It will make it worse. You need to be healthy. And then this will make you stronger for beginners. You need a solid eight to 12 weeks. Like I was saying of moderate running and. A bit of strength training. I’d recommend body weights for the first    body, weight, strength training. So air squats, pushups pull ups for the first four weeks, and then you can incorporate some strength training.

And then after about eight to 12 weeks, You can try to incorporate plyometrics, I’d say do them once every two weeks and about five minutes.    Don’t do them heavy and then slowly do  more and more. There’s so many variations that I’m going to try to give you  a workout, I’ll have one, a, an example, workout on the blog post of this, on the website and in the show notes, but you can modify it in so many different ways.

Intermediates  people that have been running for two, three years, Have you completed a 10 K half marathon, a couple of five Ks.  They know their bodies pretty well. You can ease into them probably after four to six weeks of strength work. If you’ve been off in the off season, if you’ve been training  you can jump into these.

But again, I do one every two weeks  for the first few kind of sessions. And then you can do one, one a week experts and experienced people. You can do these all year round. I do them all year round. Once a year, I take off four weeks and by off  like I just have no structure.  I’m still  training, but I would ease into plyometrics and do one every two weeks after that.

But I basically do them all year round. I ramp them up pretty heavy.  They get hot and heavy. In my base season. So I’m strength training was the same. And then when I go into my proper eight to 12 week build for the race season, I push these back a bit, but they’re still in there and I have them, my ups, even cooldowns  and  I might even do them as little lunch workout sort of thing, but yeah, that’s basically the win.

 Woo. So who should do them?  Everyone should, but here’s coach Morgan Hawkings of the run experience, YouTube channel telling us. Who should do them and why for my long distance runners.

Morgan Hawkings: This is great because we’re going to be breaking that marathon shuffle and turning up the speed. For my shorter distance runners.

This is also perfect because we are going to be strengthening your speed, turning on those fast Twitch muscle fibers with quick burst of energy here in every single movement.

Daren: So how to do them, make sure you have proper form and posture.  You have to do these correctly so slow down. You don’t need to do crazy long jumps and really high jumps.

Do. The exact drills from my video first, because they’re the good start. So they’re the good running, running form is a good segue into plyometrics. I would highly recommend following what I’m doing there that goes from  one through five, and it does get advanced quite quickly, especially the.

Advanced variation of the butt kicks and  the high knees, because you’re doing a dorsal flection, which is having your foot up. But we’ll talk about that. I talk about that in the video and you can then advance and do variations of the drills later. So you can do them faster. You can do them harder, which is  like faster.

You can jump higher, you can jump further. One leg Hills is like find a steep Hill and try to do these after you master them on flat. Whew.  Craziness.    Backing up. One thing that I actually missed is sprints. So sprints are not a form of form drills and plyometrics, but they actually, I like to do sprints at the end of my form draws and plyometric sessions, because it almost is like a gel sit together and everything comes this nice place.

It’s  Oh  your body was learning. The movements that small movement here, and then you put it all together. When you sprint   I do about 90, 95%. I work my way from 10 seconds to 20 seconds over the course of about four to six weeks. So they’ll start at 10 seconds and then I’ll do 15 seconds  a few weeks later then I’ll do ’em and it’s about six, six of them.

But this is  really good because that also improves strength. So that’s another way of improving strength. Again  there’s so many ways to  define it that it gets really messy, but yeah, that’s basically how  where do them and where to find more drills. So now that  basically the, what, why when and how  we’ll get to the, where I’ve got a bunch of videos on this and we’ll be adding more over the next while.

So stay tuned and keep checking in. Basically.  You could do them indoors.  I wouldn’t do them in an apartment, maybe the static jumping, but even then  your neighbors, if you’re an apartment will be happy. If you live in a house or you live in the first floor, you have a basement. That’s perfect.

I wouldn’t do them on my wooden floors cause they bounce  try to do them outside. But I know weather dependent is not great wind and cold doing these in the cold. Isn’t great. And because you do a lot of standing, so you don’t want to have cold muscles.  Yeah, like I’ll say in basement, garage is fine, but some of them require more space.

So you do need to get more creative on where you’re going to do them. So maybe save the beginning stuff for inside, and then the jumps you can do outside once you’re like super warm, I’d also do it on a flat surface and try to either be on pact, dirt or concrete or pavement or asphalt or the track. The track is perfect.

I’d save the sprints for grass. This is up for debate, but I wouldn’t do the plyometrics all in the grass because you kinda need that feedback from the hard ground. Maybe the track is okay to do some of these, but this is up  personal interpretation. I’d probably start out on the grass and then work your way to doing the plyometrics metrics on hard surface.

So the best way to answer that, one of our original questions earlier from this episode is why don’t. Runners do this and why don’t amateurs  do it and stay with it. And again, the best way is, like I said, it’s just to be consistent. So carve out one, one session per week, every other week. And I would do it two months, maybe three months out of  your race  your, a race  of the training blocks.

So 12 weeks out   if you’re really new to it, Do it eight weeks out and then every other week you can add imply metrics. So for your first block, so then  you get through those 12 weeks. Have a couple of weeks rest one or two weeks rest, whatever you do, then get back into it.  And then try  every week  start off every other week for a month and then do every week and then get through that training block.

And this stuff takes time then    Get through that 12 or 16 weeks. So we’re already at eight months now, then you can start incorporating in the off season. I do this a lot in my polarized training. I do a lot of really high intensity work.  That’s one side, one end of spectrum. And I do a lot of really easy running.

So I stay away from tempo stuff  even some VO, two max stuff. I really don’t touch maybe a little bit, definitely not race specific, but just really fast, really powerful type workouts. So I’m doing that in the off season. And then when I go into the actual. Season, I am primed and ready and all my tendons and ligaments they’re strong.

 And again, I’ve seen a lot of the small aches and pains and just random things. They’ve just been slowly going away along with a proper strength, routine, proper strength program, lifting, heavy weights, squats, dead lifts, lunges  all those types of things, planks, all that combined. Means that you become again, an injury free monster.

It’s on the consistent, since he started off slow. That’s my best advice to you and hit up my Strava. If you want to see what I’m doing, I document everything that I do.  So you could see  what a schedule is I probably on the extreme side, but I know that pros run. Way more than me and they do way more than me.

So it’s definitely doable by someone that’s only training anywhere from eight to 12 hours a week, which is less than two hours a day. I know a lot of people out here that are hardcore run easily, one to two hours a day. You want to find out more, feel free to go to the show notes, description, the episode description.

And  I’ll have a bunch of links in there. Could see videos. I know it’s the podcast. It’s hard to see the videos.  And I’ll have some explanation, I’ll even have some videos of some other plyometric stuff and drills that you can see, so you can  figure out your own and hit me up.  I’d love to hear from you.

I’d love to see what you’re doing out there. I’d love to see if it’s helping you.   If you don’t like it  I would love all the feedback.   Yep. We got Daren myself. We’ll take you out with the outro and as always.

If you want to perform better as you age… don’t master a lot. Don’t master a little, just stay in the middle. Don’t master all, don’t master none. just be, just be, just be a master of some