Don’t Hit The Wall; Jump Over It: Plyometric Moves for Forceful Strides

Community Contributor: Zo McCullough, CSCS, CPT General Manager at D1’s K2 Performance Center

Zo McCullough, GM at D1’s K2 Performance Center

It’s a beautiful morning on race day, you’ve trained for this and it’s time to begin. The starting gun goes off, your running through the course at your best time yet. You feel great until, near the end of your run, you feel a wave of fatigue and mental exhaustion hit you like a headwind. You slow down, feel irritated and your body begins to run out of energy as you realize that you have hit the dreaded ‘wall’.

Whether you call it ‘bonking out’ or ‘hitting the wall’, long distance runners cringe a little when hearing those words since most have experienced this phenomenon either during training or on race day.

But how can we avoid smacking into this non-tangible wall face first? Many runners would think that increasing their carb intake would have the most substantial effect, but it may not if that energy is being wasted on poor running mechanics.

What if, along with proper carb loading strategies, we can train your body to be more efficient with each stride that you make? That way, you can utilize your energy stores to help you push through the last few miles!

Let’s break this down, to have you training effectively for your next race, by looking at the following:

1) What is this ‘wall’?

2) Why plyometric exercises can help?

3) What plyometric exercises should I use?

So, let’s get into it:

What is this ‘wall’?

This ‘wall’ refers to the point where your glycogen (converted carbohydrate stores) are fully depleted. When that fuel source is tapped out, your body goes into a ‘preservation mode’ with our muscles and even our brain. That is why, when you hit this stage, negative thoughts may sprint into your head like, “I shouldn’t be doing this!” and “Everyone is doing better than I am. I should just quit now and find the nearest tub of ice cream!”.

From what we described, it sounds like everything can be fixed by just adding on more carbohydrates and electrolyte supplements, right? This leads to our next question… 

Why plyometric exercises can help?

Plyometrics, or ‘Jump Training’ refers to training your muscles to produce both strength and speed effectively. Essentially, plyometric training helps you to generate force in a strong and efficient manner. The better that you can produce force in a quick and controlled manner, the better you can control your body movements and the more efficiently you will run! 

By doing this, you may improve your running efficiency (economy) (RE) and improving your RE will help you use less energy to run the same distances that you have in the past, keeping energy for what’s important, running the best race that you can!

Take a second to take in that info. Once you see the positive changes that this can provide, we need to now consider our final question…

What plyometric exercises should I use?

If you’re a runner, or want to become a runner, you should use what time and energy, outside of training, on the exercises that matter most. For your plyometric training, we need to focus on two things:

1) Force Absorption

For that, let’s work on this: 

Depth Jumps: 

* Begin by using a box or step that is knee height or shorter.

Stand on top of the box at the edge and drop down landing softly on two feet. Once you land, immediately jump up and extend vertically. Land softly again in a squat to complete one rep. • Coaching Point! Make sure to land with your toes touching the ground first and then sink into your heels before your next jump. Your goal is to land as quietly as possible! That way you teach your body to absorb force.

2) Force Production

For this, were going to use:

Lateral Line Hops: 

* Stand with both feet together with the outside of your foot on one side of a line marked on the floor.

Begin by pushing through your toes to jump both feet to the opposite side of the line. Once you land, immediately jump again to return to the starting point on the original side of the line.  • Coaching Point! Keep your knees and hips soft while you primarily make the jump through your ankles like you are jumping rope. The jumps should be quick and you should spend as little time on the floor as possible. That way we work on producing the best jump through the floor as possible.

Give these moves a shot to help you perfect your form for race day!

More information can be found by contacting our social media channels below:

D1’s K2 Performance Center: @k2performancecenter


Coach Zo McCullough: @zo_mccullo


No Time to Run? 11 Strategies to Bust Barriers to Exercise

Community Contributor: Whitney Heins, Founder of Mother Runners, Knoxville, TN

Whitney Heins, Founder of @themotherrunners

Us Mother Runners know that none of the barriers to exercise have been as steep as the ones present in parenthood—demanding schedules, sleepless nights, illness, feedings, separation anxiety, the list goes on.

Before becoming a mom, it was just me and my willpower. But now, other human beings are in the equation and it requires a network of people, intense schedule coordination, and some sacrifice to get out the door. I’m still getting the hang of it, but here are some strategies that have worked for me—and hopefully they may help you, too.

1.     Get it on the calendar. My husband is a runner, too, so for both of us to get our exercise in, we have to coordinate. One of us may have to run before dawn, or forgo dinner. With busy schedules and young kids, it’s something we discuss daily to ensure it happens. Gone are the days of the spontaneous jaunts. 

2.     Go early. For a lot of people, getting up early to exercise is a bitter pill to swallow. But that cup of coffee in the quiet hours of the morning is absolute bliss, and quite the motivator—so is meeting up with a friend to get in a few miles. Also motivating? Knowing that you started the day off right before anyone else in the house is awake. 

3.     Work it in. Sometimes there just isn’t enough time in the day—so you have to multi-task. I’ll do barre moves while I hold my son up on the counter to play in the kitchen sink; or take work calls while running (with the disclaimer that I may be heavily breathing while talking).

4.     Get equipped. If you’re home with the kids and they’re napping or otherwise occupied, harness that free time at home by investing in a treadmill or elliptical, or whatever. This also comes in handy during treacherous weather.

5.     Make it a family affair. We go on “family adventures” where the kids get a morning full of hikes by the river, playtime at the park and muffins at the local bakery. They aren’t ones to sit in the stroller long, so stops along the way entice them to join us while we get some exercise in. Obviously, this run isn’t the type for workout—but it can suffice for an easy training day.

6.     Tack it on. The attachment with our kiddos is strong—like cry for hours after we leave strong. So instead of doing the “duck and run” to get out the door, only to do it again when we want to exercise, it’s much easier to tack a workout on to whatever we left the house for in the first place. Have a meeting or a lunch break from work? Bring your gear and save some tears!

7.     Ask for help. We’re all busy and sometimes you just need a little help from a friend—or family member—to watch the kids while you get a workout in. Ask for it. I used to feel selfish asking for someone to watch my kids while I ran but now I realize the benefit running has for not just me—but my whole family!—a healthier, happier mama.

8.     Tell yourself, it’s okay. Confession. I have serious mom guilt and almost always used to feel bad when I’d take time to run. But, I know I need it like I need food and water. And, I know I am a way better mom, wife, and person if I get to run. And, I know it’s good for me—in the long and short run.

9.     Hit up child care. I know many Mother Runners who have found great workout facilities that offer child care while they exercise. For these moms, it is a win/win. The kids have fun and they get movin’.

10.  Make it nonnegotiable. Making an appointment for yourself to go running and don’t let other things stand in its way. Treat this time as if it is a doctor’s appointment or work meeting. Put it on the calendar, and have it stay there.

11.  Throw in the towel. Hey, some days it’s just not possible (and if you’re dealing with pretty bad illness, it’s not smart). It’s okay! Tomorrow is another day.

Happy running!

Whitney Heins is the founder of The Mother Runners, a place where moms who run or want to run can find information and inspiration to chase their dreams. Whitney is a former journalist who works from home with her two small children. She is currently training to qualify for the Olympic trials in the marathon this fall. Follow her on Instagram and Facebook at @themotherrunners

Knoxville Running on a Budget

Once you complete your first race, that adrenaline kicks in and you feel like you can conquer anything once your feet pass that finish line. Then the goals change and that 5K becomes a 10K, half, or even a full marathon. Next thing you know, you’ve signed up for all the things!

Those races add up $ $ $, but I’d like to let you in on a little secret…

You don’t have to go broke trying to race!

Here are my tips for running on a budget in Knoxville:

  1. Join Knoxville Track Club

Members receive–

2. Volunteer at a Knoxville Track Club event

    Volunteers receive–

  • Race Swag (*when availabile: shirt, towels, cups, and/or other cool gear)
  • Coupon codes
    • Run in the race & Volunteer: $5 coupon
    • Volunteer only: $10 coupon
  • Community service hours
  • Possible cash rewards for large groups/programs 
  • End of year swag & awards based on volunteer hours at the Holiday Party
  • Earn points towards the Road/Trail Grand Prix
    • In order to qualify for the Hal W. Canfield Award in the trail/road Grand Prix, an individual must be a current KTC member and volunteer at least three Knoxville Track Club events.
    • Individuals must also place in any one of the overall or age divisions. The individual with the most points will receive the Hal W. Canfield Award. 
  • CHKM volunteers also have a Volunteer Appreciation Party with food and raffle prizes!

3. Join a team

  • If you create/join a team of 4 or more people, you get an extra $5 discount along with your KTC $5 discount! That’s $10 back in your pocket (for select races)

4. Register for a series of races (road/trail)

  • If you sign up for a trail/road/high mileage series, they offer you a package discount to save you extra money for the multiple events!

5. Register early!

  • You can save yourself extra money just by registering during early bird pricing!

6. Train with a group

  • There is a group run 7 days a week
    • Trail and road options
    • Early morning or evening
    • High and low mileage
    • Track, speed, hill training
  • Check the schedule to find a group run near you!

7. Opt out of the race shirt

  • If your dresser/closet is overflowing with race shirts, start opting out.
  • Most races offer a $5 discount if you choose not to have a race shirt with your registration. 

What would Phil do?

Phil Barber 1955-2019

Not everyone sets out to be the greatest in the world. Some strive to be the greatest for the world without even realizing it. That man was Phil Barber and he was my first real friend in Knoxville. He was the type of person who would free up his time to talk to you, check in with you, and make sure you were doing alright. He went out of his way to make sure everyone knew that they mattered. He wanted everyone to feel welcomed in the Knoxville running community. He attended darn near every single run during the week and tried to talk to every single person he met. He was always so fascinated and inspired by everyone never realizing that he was the one inspiring others. He’d always go out of his way to help folks the moment he became aware of the need. He would literally give you the shirt off his back. One trait that always sticks out to me and used to get on my nerves was his advice on how to get better at running. He didn’t believe in going to gyms or gimmicks. He thought folks should simply run more. He would often message me saying “Are you running tonight? You need to run.” Or “You need to be doing consistent 10-12 mile long runs on weekends. We both should be doing that. You are fully capable of doing it.” Sure I was capable, but I didn’t want to run that much to be honest… I did anyway because…well…Phil. The point is that he wanted to see me get better. He wanted everyone to be better than they once were because that’s what he had done. Here’s a guy who lost everything during the recession, but rather than sit around and complain about it, he set out to improve himself mentally and physically. So he started to run… a lot. That led to 15 marathons in 12 months to be exact and that’s not even including the fun runs he was still running at during the week! The way he treated others is a message we should etch into our memories, so that we could be the Phils everyone needs in their lives: showing compassion and grace, calling friends just to tell them that we care about them, running even when our lives feel out of control, helping others, and playing our music so loud that those around us can’t help but remember us as we pass by. Phil, I love you so much and feel so honored to have had you as my friend.

Why do YOU run??


I wanted to try something new with the posts…

I want to know WHY people run.

For me, I started running because I was out of shape from having a baby and had zero friends when I moved here. I wanted to be healthy and surround myself with great people who happen to run. Now I’m healthy and am friends with great people!

…so why do YOU run?

When the weather is crappy or sunny, what keeps you running?

Why do you keep showing up at the Group runs, gyms, or for long or short runs?

What got you started with running?

What keeps you coming back?

I would love to repost YOUR story with a picture to represent the runners of Knoxville!

Tag us to be featured #865running or email us at!

Photo Credit: Running the Alley

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