Is This The Best Running-Specific Exercise?

Google ‘Running Cross-Training’ or ‘Running Drills’ and you’re bound to find some common exercises/drills…

  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Box Jumps
  • Strides
  • Fartleks
  • etc…


When integrating an exercise or drill into a running program, the first question to ask is, “Why?”

First off, every element of your program should have a purpose. If you can’t explain why it’s there… then it probably shouldn’t be a part of your program. 

For instance, if you’re new to running, high-intensity and long mileage runs should likely not be a part of your program. 

So while there are aspects to a program that are better suited for some runners versus others, there exercises that are beneficial for all runners.

As noted above, there are commonly referenced exercises and drills that you’ve likely done. However, there is one basic and ‘old-school’ exercise that is often off the radar of runners – and it shouldn’t be.

Here’s a hint (no, it’s not boxing, although it’s a great workout!)…


Before we name the exercise, let’s discuss why we think it’s the best exercise.

The body is made up of a series of spring systems and as such, if you can stiffen a spring system, you will get a better energy return and thus, increased performance without putting forth any extra energy – this is termed, Free Energy

In regard to running, two of the spring systems that influence running performance the most are the Foot Arch and the Achilles Tendon.

The more you can ‘stiffen’ these areas, the greater the positive impact on your running will be. 

So without further ado, the exercise that we recommend is…


In addition to strengthening the foot arch and Achilles Tendon spring systems, it’s a killer workout, you can do it anywhere… and it’s cheap! 

Lastly, from a specificity standpoint, the degree of knee flexion while jump roping closely mimics the knee flexion of running as well it as being a ballistic exercise like running – so it is also a great way to train the leg and core musculature specific to running.

So next time you’re looking to add some variety to your workouts and increase your running performance… jump rope!

Rick Prince is the founder of United Endurance Sports Coaching Academy (UESCA), a science/evidence-based endurance sports coaching education company that certifies running and triathlon coaches.

To learn more about our Running Coach Certification and to get a code for $50 off, click here!


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