T Nation

Let's Talk Running


I know it's big in the combat sports. Boxers do it. Thai guys do it.


I'm curious what about it actually helps you with a ring sport. I'm not convinced that running (steady stake, distance running) is really all that helpful for conditioning you for 3-5min rounds.

Running is aerobic. Any pace you can maintain for miles on end is going it be moderate intensity at best. So totally aerobic, primarily fat-for-fuel-burning activity.

Fighting (ring sports) are highly anaerobic, intense, glycogen-burning activities.

So how does going on little runs help with that? Everyone says do it, but I really feel like it's kind of an "old school" carryover from guys who don't really know much about the mechanics behind it, they just know guys who've done it won.

It seems like sprints/intervals are the only way to really get much out of running.

So can someone explain what low-moderate intensity steady-state cardio is at all useful for these sports?

It's nice out, so I've recently re-introduced running outside back into my routine, but only doing sprint intervals.


It increases the efficiency of your heart and lungs.
So while the carry over might not be directly attributed, it probably helps you recover quicker.


LB is correct, plus in my experience, it helps get me ready mentally even more than physically. Getting up an hour earlier than you really have to to run a few miles before you eat your breakfast sucks fucking balls, but no one is going to do it for you. No one is going to wake you up, no one is going to tell you to keep going. You aren't surrounded by your coaches and teammates like you are during regular training sessions. You have to make yourself do it. Just like in a fight. Ain't nobody out there but you, and you gotta do it.


I've actually decided recently to replace all my steady state/long distance aerobic work with anaerobic high intensity work, mainly because I want to move up about 10 lbs or so but also because I feel it would be more beneficial.

Even skipping rope I've now decided I will only do at max speed with short periods of recovery at a slow rate.

There is always the argument of course that the old school guys did fine without any of this new knowledge, but I think it's silly to disregard knowledge just based on that alone.

To be honest, I'm not sure if the running 5 miles for mental toughness argument really holds much weight either, I've always found it more to be so incredibly dull and boring. A bigger test of mental toughness would be hill sprints IMO, big fucking hills at that.


This is along the lines of my thinking. In particular the attitude that if it worked for them, we should do it. This is a science, and I'd like a reason for doing what I'm going to do.


I think a big problem is, and it's evident in practically all available training footage of fighters that use the old mindset of running five miles as their roadwork, that eventually you're just jogging. A big part of roadwork at one time was the theory that it'd keep fighters breathing while in the ring, the prolonged activity would condition them to control and maintain their breathing. Personally I think having a run, an actual run over a shorter distance like one or two miles then doing sprints will help you get the most out of your time at the track or on the road.

I think a big reason it's given preference over other options in boxing is because the sport is really lagging behind other sports in Strength and Conditioning. Your trainer is going to know what his trainer taught him and it's really just information passed down over the years built on "Muhammad Ali did this, don't you want to be like Muhammad Ali?". I think the attention Alex Ariza is getting might change things in boxing though.


I read something awhile back about how steady state cardio 130-150bpm for 60mins+ increases your hearts stroke volume. Which I guess makes it more efficient.

I think running could be good for that.


Well, every boxer runs. My trainer was trained by Angelo Dundee, and so, you run.

I don't think running five to ten miles a day helps all that much- diminishing returns and all that. But running two miles every morning is going to help you keep your weight in check, it's going to absolutely help out with mental toughness and discipline.

I have also found that having a strong aerobic base helps me in the ring.

However, I'm a big proponent of sprinting, and I do believe that a mix of the two is best. Running 100 yards flat out is just as miserable as running a mile, and doing ten of them is just as hard. Doing 40 and 50 yard dashes helps too... and really, to me, any running in any capacity done consistently will help your wind.

That running ten miles a day shit... to me it just seems like energy that could be better spent doing more boxing specific exercises. So i'll say anything under three miles a day is reasonable to me, mixed with other types of running as well.

And as far as Alex Ariza goes, I'll give him credit when he brings up with a fighter who isn't Manny Pacquaio.


All the controversy surrounding him has done something that's never happened in boxing and it's bringing real attention to improvements in Strength & Conditioning, nutrition, and supplementation. Like with most things if a successful person other people will want to emulate or adopt it, since Pacquiao's training regiment is pretty well publicized it's easy for the average trainer to adopt.


I will just leave this here:


Like any great wreck there are valuables strewn about.


My road work is three miles out, hill sprints, three miles back. Sometimes I get nuts and do it with weights. Of course that is not my only aerobic work, but that's my favorite and most-often used running routine.

I don't gas in a 3 round fight, even when I'm getting my ass handed to me. YMMV.


I ran allot its what wrestlers did.

10 miles 5 days a week
this was essential to my making weight- and its what was common in that time.

this was early and mid 90's
the Gable trained crowd, and the Oklahoma crowd and the eastern Bloc countries where doing too.

meet at the van.
get in the van
drive 10 miles out
get out of the van .

make it back in 46 or 60 minutes or dont bother coming to practice.
40 for an 8 60 mins or less for a ten.

this was par for the course in that era.

I ran the NYC marathon in 91 or 92 and wrestled in a match that tuesday.
so I might have been a little crazy

roadwork then was an easy way to add more to your workload.
its what everyone was doing.

in my case- it was a move to keep making weight-

we also did hills or sprints everyday

and lots of other shit.
this is what people did at the time.


Rocky Marciano is said to have run hills and what not all the time. Great way to build your legs. Wendler also recommends that in 531.... so things haven't changed all that much sometimes...


This is the main reason for the long runs.It makes your whole cardiovascular system more efficient so the body can recover from the intense padwork,sparring,grappling etc.
You obviously can't become fight fit by just running,you need the fight training.But having a good aerobic base allows you to do more training and recover faster from the anaerobic stuff.
I've trained with a bunch of guys who do a lot of highly anaerobic crossfit style training instead of running.In my experience they do fine in the first or second round of padwork/sparring/fighting but then can't seem to recover between rounds.


I would concur in my own experience with what was said above. It doesnt need to be running, but any sort of longer duration aerobic work. Flag football, jumprope, shadow boxing etc. Get your resting heart rate down to the low 50's and your recovery is going to be much better.

Shorter rounds, such as 2 min rds, you can rely MORE on your anaerobic system if need be, but you can also forsake that need if your aerobic system is better conditioned.

Listen folks, your 2-3 day a week conditioning of less than 20 minutes will not get you prepared for fighting. You need aerobic, and anaerobic.

Suck it up, do long distance one day, sprints the next. You get bored? mix it up, hill sprints, sled sprints, 2 miles, 4 miles, 10 miles, bike, jumprope etc. Then, train hard in your sport. spar, hit pads etc.

WALA. Thread.


I actually like running sprints, that's why I said distance running is tougher mentally. Could be the opposite for other folks.

I know that "this is the way it's always been" doesn't necessarily make something right, but the newest thing isn't always the best thing either. You see a lot of boxers (who, more often than not, run a few miles every morning) still throwing hard in round 12, and you see a lot of MMA guys standing around gasping for air in round 2 after all the "cutting edge" snorkel interval suspension what the fuck ever they do for conditioning.


When I'm running a few miles even a couple times a week, I notice my wind in the ring is better.

I do believe that it makes a difference.


The snorkel stuff is just stupid. That said, is it a better use of 20 min to run 3+ miles, or to interval sprints? I say intervaling sprints, no contest.

I do think there's a pretty significant effect on performance at all levels when you compare 3min rounds to 5min rounds. Those ten min PRIDE rounds must have been killer.


Like rich said do both.


I agree. I like running and mixing in sprint tabatas with it. So, stake out a moderate distance (3 miles). Run the first mile as a warm-up. Then to a tabata for sprints, i.e.,

20 sec on, 10 sec off = 30 sec. per rep

Do 8 reps for a grand total of 4 minutes of training. Finish the rest of the run as a cool down. Now you are ready for mobility work, a little stretching, the rest of the warmup (for anything else you are doing).

-- jj