Though unpleasant and unpredictable, the injury bug tends to bite most track athletes at some point. Fortunately, you can keep the bug at bay by taking precautions through cross training and conditioning. Heed the following advice from experts at Florida State and Wisconsin, two of the best T&F programs in the country.
Bob Braman, head T&F coach, Florida State University, three-time NCAA Men’s Outdoor Champs
Stephanie Housh, T&F strength and conditioning coach, University of Wisconsin, the first Big Ten school to win an NCAA Indoor Championship 
STACK: What is the purpose of plyometric training and cross training?
Braman: Specifically with cross training, we look at that as [helping] somebody who is on the edge of an injury and [needs to get off his] feet. Cross training is mostly used for our injured athletes. We do drills, we do plyometrics, and we do core development. The explosive [element] of plyometrics includes jumping on boxes and jumping over hurdles.
STACK: Do you condition and cross train your sprinters differently than your long distance runners?
Housh: Yes, we do. With my sprint athletes, I’ll have them perform more plyometric work, such as jumping rope and ladder drills to focus on their footwork. The distance athletes do not perform as much plyo work, even though they do a little bit of jump rope work.
STACK: What kinds of drills or exercises do you recommend for conditioning and cross training?
Housh: For long distance athletes, we focus on Mountain Climbers and similar drills to get their legs going. The main difference between the two event athletes is that sprinters perform more circuit-type drills. With regards to off-season conditioning for my throwers, I usually have them run stairs, do a swimming workout or run 10 sets of 50 to 60 yards [down and back], with a 45-second rest in between each sprint. In season, [they] perform a circuit with medicine balls, ladders, sprints, squat jumps, jump rope and core exercises. The circuit lasts for about 30 minutes. It’s quick, and it gets their heart rates going and keeps them well conditioned.
Braman: [With cross training], they’ll do cycling, they’ll [use the] Stairmaster, sometimes they’ll get on a bicycle and sometimes they’ll even get on a treadmill, [where] the pounding is less than getting out on the streets. [The athletes] will also swim in the pool or even run in the pool. We have an underwater treadmill here at Florida State, so we [can] do low-impact running against the water. We look at those [exercises] as injury prevention. We [identify] those people who are already injured and [are] trying to come back. For [athletes] who have had a history of injuries, we back them down and say, “Today you’re going to train hard and you’re going to do this cross training exercise.” Basically, cross training [is used] as injury prevention and injury comeback through event-specific plyometrics, drills, and core development.