Anyone who trains for running should have a purpose in mind for every run.
Sometimes it will be something very specific, like a long run as part of marathon training, or a speed session. Often though, it’s a recovery run, and those recovery runs may not achieve much except get the blood flowing and heart gently pumping for half an hour. However, it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of running too many ‘recovery’ miles and when this happens those miles can turn into junk miles.
Runners who use barefoot running as part of their conditioning can easily add a bit more purpose to these recovery runs by just taking the shoes off for the last mile or half a mile. This alone can turn some junk miles into a session with real benefits for form development. What else can runners do to change junk miles into miles with value?
Last week I went an easy five miler and also took the opportunity of a daylight run to run mile barefoot. I also reintroduced a simple training element that can be slotted into almost any run — hopping. I used to do this a year or two ago, but somehow got out of the habit.
Hopping is a form of plyometric exercise and it is a well documented drill to increase strength and power in the leg muscles. If you’ve not done any before take it easy, it is easy to overdo things even for runners who already have great leg strength. I started with just 20 hops on each leg followed by a couple of minutes easy running then another 20 and another. So 3 x 20 on each leg; that was plenty to start with.
This is a great way to add a bit of variety and purpose to some of those runs that don’t really have a label.
If you really get into hopping you might want to test yourself against a couple of hopping world records.
The first sounds quite simple, all you have to do is hop a mile in 27 minutes 51 seconds; that is what Ashrita Furman did in Penang on 1st february 2006.
If that sound a bit long then what about one 100m?
For all you hopping sprinters out there, the figure to aim for is 15.57 sec, set by Rommell Griffith in Barbados on 31st March 2007.