The effect of plyometric training on distance running performance
Previous research has reported that plyometric training improves running economy (RE) and ultimately distance-running performance, although the exact mechanism by which this occurs remains unclear. This study examined whether changes in running performance resulting from plyometric training were related to alterations in lower leg musculotendinous stiffness (MTS). Seventeen male runners were pre- and post-tested for lower leg MTS, maximum isometric force, rate of force development, 5-bound distance test (5BT), counter movement jump (CMJ) height , RE, V˙O2max, lactate threshold (Thla), and 3-km time. Subjects were randomly split into an experimental (E) group which completed 6 weeks of plyometric training in conjunction with their normal running training, and a control (C) group which trained as normal. Following the training period, the E group significantly improved 3-km performance (2.7%) and RE at each of the tested velocities, while no changes in V˙O2max or Thla were recorded. CMJ height, 5BT, and MTS also increased significantly. No significant changes were observed in any measures for the C group. The results clearly demonstrated that a 6-week plyometric programme led to improvements in 3-km running performance. It is postulated that the increase in MTS resulted in improved RE. We speculate that the improved RE led to changes in 3-km running performance, as there were no corresponding alterations in V˙O2max or Thla.