"Jump rope training," I told one of the girls that I help coach during the cross country season. She's in junior high, so there's plenty of time for big miles and all the other components that go into developing as a runner. The young lady is already a good runner and was competitive against competition a year or two older than she was. At this age level, a year of development is simply huge and she was frustrated that she was getting out-kicked at end of the race. She wanted to develop a better kick.
So I told her to do jump rope training.
And she went, "Hunh?" Not a fan, at least at first.
Like many young runners, she wants to be good now. No-can-do. You have to build to peak performance. One problem that I see on a frequent basis is a young athlete trying to improve too quickly by increasing the miles too fast, or adding extra speed work.
They'd be better off building the foundation first, especially the at the junior high level.
Jumping rope will develop the systems that will deliver that faster kick. The feet will become much more responsive and quicker off the ground, the calves will strengthen, posture improves, and so does balance.
Along the way, there's less impact and potential for joint damage when done correctly.
Buddy Lee has a great book on jump rope training that can lead you through a program. I had my runner focus on the workout for 200/400 meter runners even though she's destined to be a distance girl.
In a cross country race, the last 200 meters are the kick. I've also encouraged her to run some shorter distances during the track season to understand that level of effort better.
I think the young lady is going to surprise herself. Jumping rope is for kids - and runners.