T Nation

Distance Running?


I've read some of the authors say distance running is not the best for u, but they only mostly say they don't lk it and move on and i can't seem to find more info about it. if anyone could help i'd appreciate it


Running is a frowned upon subject around here, unless its sprints or sled pulls. Check out mapmyrun.com if you want some basic info on how to look like an emaciated athlete. If your interested in building muscle tho then stay here and never run more than two miles at a time.

Depends on your goals homie.


Authors on this site say that because long distance running primarily uses an energy system dominated by the activation of slow twitch muscle fibers, which have poor potential for growth. I'd recommend reading up on anything by Chad Waterbury, who tends to go a bit more in depth on this.

You could also argue that excessive running (several miles per day, almost every day of the week), burns a shit load energy that could be used in the synthesis of new muscle.

If you want to look muscular, be strong and powerful or both then sprinting, pushing/pulling sleds, barbell complexes, kettlebells, tabata etc are a good way to go. A long distance run now and then won't hurt, but personally I'd keep it to once or twice per week.


Also, excessive running can tap into your glycogen storage in your muscles to break it down to supply the body with glucose. Fuck that!


It depends on your goals. If you're in a combat sport, you need to distance run. If you just want to have good wind, then a mile or two twice a week is enough. If you're trying to increase your work capacity for lifting weights, then you don't need it at all.

Like dude above said, all depends on your goals.


I ran... I mean I really ran until I was nearly 31. Logging anywhere from 55 to 160KM a week was normal as I was running ultra-marathons, competing in small adventure races, participating in or instructing military training, or running hours and hours in the foothills of the Indian Himalaya or through the African bush just for the hell of it.

My biggest problem was that I can be a real thinker or day dreamer when running so I would literally zone out and run longer, farther, and sometimes faster than I was planning to which led to constant overtraining... of course to which I foolishly ignored until it wore me down. Literally ran myself into the ground as they say... knees, lower back, neck, feet, ankles... you name it they were screwed.

But I luckily snapped out of the zombie-like sport (upon the advice of an old school Swiss surgeon) and started focusing on my hill sprinting more and more, added leg pistols and started doing my burpees, body busters, military calisthenics, and weighted stair runs/climbs even more regularly; as in daily. It was difficult, as I am built like a gazelle and running was effortless for me, but I cut out the long distance running except for what I had to do for work as a military training instructor. I started to feel better within a few months and after a year my knees and lower back stopped bothering me; after two years that surgery on my one knee was no longer required; and after three my left foot regained near full flexibility again.

Now I am a hill sprinting stair running mad man... and no training injuries or pains to speak of for over 5 years now, knock on wood (well... except for some fractured ribs from a slip on a failed muscle-up last year but that doesn't count!). I feel more alive and have more energy and much more time to live my life so it was a good choice.

Now don't get me wrong a nice long jog after some tough training may do you some good, loosen you up and all that, but then again so will a good deep tissue massage. I honestly believe that short but very intense and/or heavy movements are much better for us and should be a focal point of anyone's conditioning and strengthening program; bodybuilding including.

BTW: The few times I do need to run long distance I am surprisingly not much slower than my top running days... I just feel it more afterwards though!!!


I was listening to a podcast featuring Jon Chaimberg(GSP, and a bunch of high level MMA guys trainer). He HEAVILY frowns on any sort of LSD running. He says his fighters exclusively do sprints/hurdles/tabata/sled pulls.

I've heard this from a few other trainers.

When you say combat sports do you mean boxing?


Trainers all do things differently. I predominantly meant boxing. MMA, because of the grappling and the extensive isometric strength you need, may be different.

How much different, I don't know. Most of the guys I've known who did MMA with any seriousness ran.

I don't like the backlash against roadwork... I think a lot of people say it because it's en vogue, kind of like how a couple years back no one wanted to do curls or direct arm work. The empirical evidence over the years points to roadwork being very important for both keeping weight in line and endurance in the ring.


if you're trying to obtain peak conditioning, then middle distance work is definitely needed.. sled/tabata/intervals are fine, but they are more aimed towards improving lactic threshold, while any sort of distance running is going to affect primarily your vo2max.. vo2max + lactic threshold = optimal for becoming highly conditioned.. only aiming to improve one of those factors will not lead to the best results.

i'd keep it at a limit of 5k and really work on improving those times.

since when do 5k runners look emaciated, if they lift/bodybuild? their are plenty of big dudes out there who run 5k's and have some very good times..

middle distance work will also highly effect stroke volume of the heart, which can really get your resting HR down.. if your heart rate lowers, you're going to be able to recover alot faster between rounds.. i have not found lactic work to be more beneficial in this regard.. when i was doing distance work for boxing, ~4x/week, my RHR was around 44 at it's best.. my recovery between rounds was nuts, and my conditioning in heavy sparring was excellent, going 8 hard rounds every few weeks or so..


my boxing coach was howard davis Jr at ATT, he woke up every day from i think it was age 14 to run 3 miles.. if i remember correctly, the only time he did not do that up until his first retirement, was when his father died... he once said to a bunch of us : "once you cannot wake up and run those 3 miles, it's time to think about doing something else"... olympic gold medalist right there, excellent shape, and still in excellent shape at 50+ years old.


honestly, i'd go more with running middle distance than doing any intervals.. heavy bag intervals/sparring is quite intense, so there's your intervals right there.. then throw in some full body lifting and you're good.. boxing itself will highly target lactic threshold... i would spend most of my time improving my work rate on the heavy bag as far as intervals go, then i'd put in distance work and lifting 2x/week.. best shape of my life, pretty annoyed i got into power sports and neglected it.. my vo2 max was around 65 or so based on estimates, easily going 8 rounds and i ran 4:32 mile.. now im a pile of shit because i spent 2 years dedicating myself to vert.. lol

war ATT.



Did the vert help with anything in combat?


i had to stop boxing 2 years ago cause of chronic knuckle injury.. so no idea :wink:

if i had stayed in the same condition i was when boxing, kept boxing, and gained in vert, then ya i bet it would have help pretty well with my power.. legs got 10x stronger.



I've trained in all sorts of ways and having done training with distance and without, I've found that distance stuff is pretty much unnecassary unless you compete at distances stuff. My conditioning is way better without it. If you like it, do it. If you don't, don't do it, you're not losing anything in my experience.


Intervals work better imo. There are better ways to keep fighters working than moving at a slow pace jogging countless miles!!!!


You develop the aerobic system with aerobic training. You develop the anaerobic system with anaerobic training. If you participate in a sport with an aerobic component (which is almost every sport), you need to be doing some aerobic training. If your sport practice doesn't provide enough, you need to supplement with additional aerobic training in whatever form that may be.

There is really no getting around that, no matter how popular intervals may be right now.


I've found that intervals build enough of the aerobic component. When I was a lieutenant I used to train my platoon with nothing but intervals and we had the top PT score for a platoon in my brigade, probably the whole post if they did that. We also had no failures and the top 4 guys as well. We didn't do any distance stuff. As far as anything else, I train and compete in MMA and jiu-jitsu and I have awesome conditioning never do any distance stuff. I get whatever I need from that from my training.


Adarqui, thanks for pointing that out, you're right--there are guys who run 5k etc and don't have the emanciated look. BJ Penn(clearly not the ideal physique but not emanciated either) runs 10 miles a day when preparing for a fight. Nick Diaz, also not the ideal physique but definitely not an emanciated runner, also has long distance steady state cardio as a part of his training, and even competes in Ironman comps. And the Marines, before adopting a HIT approach to cardio still produced trainee's who didn't have the emanciated look.

Richochet, one of the highest quality posts I read. Thanks for sharing.


For lifting weights = not so good.

For everything else = yes.

A local kayak/canu club that's on the top of the state for years (many olympic representatives, always a gold in the state championship) uses running in their conditioning.

Running (6kilometer and up), rowing (of course) and lifting weights. When lifting, they go pretty light weight, a lot of reps.


Endurance is movement specific. At the same time, a mile or two a 2x/wk is super low volume for distance running. So for body comp purposes to cut weight it makes sense, or if you're trying to push 4, 5, or 6 minute miles, which would be slightly passed the anaerobic threshold I believe.


Agreed 100%.

The Thinker and Mark M. on elitefts.com have several posts regarding the effect of training at various intensities on the body and the heart in particular. Long story short: aerobic and anaerobic work produce different physiological responses and for the vast majority of sports aerobic work should be included. For most athletic endevors, doing only anaerobic work may be adequate, but it will certainly not be optimal.

One other thing I'd like to add: aerobic training does not just mean long slow distance. It is possible to do intervals at aerobic intensities.


The problem is people who do distance work and those that don't tend to have very different viewpoints on Distance running. Long distance to me is 2 miles or anything over 10 minutes, I've met runners who would crack up laughing when I say that. These coaches deal with athletes who've trained all there lives and keep a basic conditioning, long distance might mean 30+ minutes. Of course they're going to think daily long distance is bad.