After straining my Achilles tendon a few months ago (and aggravating the injury by running in my new Vibram Five Fingers), I’ve been working to stretch my Achilles tendon and improve the strength of my calf muscles. Strong calf muscles are key to maximizing your running speed, particularly in shorter races.
I do a simple series of heel raises, standing on a step. I let my heels hang over the edge, stretching my calves and Achilles tendons, then lift my heel as high as I can. I do them first with my toes pointing straight ahead, then pointing out to the side, and finally with my toes pointing inward. These tree exercises make sure that my calves are better equipped to handle uneven surfaces on road or on the trail, without getting injured.
You can also do these with only one foot at a time, as shown it the photo above. Make sure you have something to hold onto to maintain your balance.
Give these exercises a try and let me know how you do in the comments.