I love jumping over things. I love jumping on to things. I have loved doing this ever since I was a little kid. Where I grew up in New Jersey we had a fairly large back yard. Starting at an early age I started excavating our backyard. I would build castles from leftover bricks and construct worlds and histories that can only exist in childhood. There is one rock in particular that I unearthed. My sister will often say that before I was born, you could only see maybe a part of this rock the size of a clenched fist. By the time I was five I had dug up the top of an enormous boulder. With so many fantastic rocks in my backyard I would often try to make it from one end to the other solely by jumping from rock to rock. I’ve never entirely stopped doing this. If I get bored on trail runs I will jump from rock to rock. If I’m running down the corridors of Boston and I see something entertaining to jump on or over (such as the hedge in front of that giant temple in Coolidge Corner) I feel an impulse to do it. This has gotten me in some trouble from time to time. Two December’s ago I attempted to jump over something, caught my toe, and wound up really damaging my knee. And this spring I vaulted over a fence and hurt my ankle in a way I thought I would never hurt myself. This, in a roundabout way, is one of the reasons why I finally decided to run Boston. But, that’s a tale for another day.
I was first introduced to plyometrics in high school. This was pretty basic, we worked it into our drills my senior year of track as pretty much just jumping up and down. Undoubtedly our coaches had vaguely heard of plyometrics as it was the cool, hip training to do in the mid-2000’s and wanted to also seem hip to the new trends. I’m sure you’re thinking what with my love of jumping over things I ran hurdles in high school. This was not the case. As anyone who has seen me dance can tell you, I have no rhythm and hurdles require you to have a natural, internal rhythm. In college track, we integrated plyometrics more into our workouts. This was more to give us a foundation of what to do and then go and do it on our own. They were never that intense. I always liked doing plyometrics. It satisfied my primal urge to jump on and over things. Every now and then since college I’ve done some plyometric work, especially in the winter when it is too cold to go outside for long runs (this is something I’m going to have to get over in a few months). In a nutshell, the idea behind plyometrics is to build power and explosive energy. Running can build endurance. Strength training can build raw strength. But to create power you need to shock your body. It’s sort of like a spring. Your body is loaded with energy, like a condensed spring, and by unleashing bouts of energy you are, in essence, unleashing that spring. This is obviously rudimentary and my handle on the science behind it is sketchy at best. P90x is a form of intensive plyometric work for those familiar with it. What I do know is that I find it fun and it’s something different to break up routine.
Today I ran to my gym, which isn’t that far, just about a mile and half. My new gym happens to have a whole series of plyo boxes of varying heights. I jumped on and off of a medium height box. Side to side over the medium box. I did one drill I apparently created myself as I can’t find it anywhere which involves a smaller box and alternating jumping and tapping your toe on the box and springing off with each foot. If you time this one right, one foot will hit the box at the same time your other foot is touching down on the ground,– I try to see how long I can keep the perfect timing up. I jumped on and off of a box that must have been 2 ½ to three feet tall a few times, however the impact to my ankle was starting to take it’s toll. I finished off by just doing a series of jumps where I tucked my legs at the apex of the jump. All in all I’ve be punishing my legs for the last few days (I went to the gym and did strength training yesterday) and my legs don’t seem to want to give in. I haven’t been sore yet. I’m taking this as a good sign.
Have a look at this fellow here and you’ll get an idea of a few of the things I did today. The picture with the rings is called bounding, which is most akin to what I once did in my backyard, leaping from rock to rock.
I’m headed out to New Jersey this weekend for my sister’s wedding, which has been fourteen years in the making. For someone who likes to write, I couldn’t begin to type how excited I am for this. I know that the smile her photographers catch on me will tell you all everything you need to know.
Song stuck in my head: Free – Train