Thomas Yount wrote:
My question regarding all this for some coach that can answer; is the development of form and efficiency a measurable physiological characteristic? In other words, if I spend 2 months doing plyometrics and drilling my form through exercises, will my subsequent race improvements mean an increased VO2 max or lactate threshold, or will these variables remain the same and the results be empirical? To use Mr. Canova's term, is form an "enzymatic" problem or a "strength" problem?
What you are talking about is called running economy, generally measured by the energy cost of running at a particular (usually submaximum) pace. If you can reduce the energy cost of running at race pace, you will be able to run faster at that pace. The time your feet spend contacting the ground while running is a very significant part of the energy cost of running, and drills, explosive strength training, plyometrics, and short sprints can improve this. Probably the best example of the success of doing this can be found here:
Some of the sprint-derived training methods mentioned aboove in this thread can also improve VO2max and LT. But you can run faster without improving these, simply by doing exercises to improve running economy. People who are injury-prone should be cautious about some of the more stressful plyometric methods, such as depth jumps.