I think it’s fair to say that the overwhelming majority of boxers perform some form of running training…and have been since the dawn of boxing.
It’s very straightforward –
- Minimal equipment is needed
- It can be done anywhere, anytime
- It effectively raises heart rate
Boxers will swear by its effectiveness.
As will their coaches.
Both will have experienced the benefits firsthand and seen the difference it makes to conditioning and boxing performance.
Not only that, but I’ve spoken with a few boxers who all claim that that running is the best thing they can do to accelerate weight loss.
Yet, despite all of that, the new wave of strength and conditioning coaches all say the same thing: –
Running is useless for boxers.
Yep, they’re willing to go against an absolute mount Everest of evidence and call out boxers for using any form of running training.
The reason for this is something as follows –
- Running is a low intensity activity (since it can be sustained for long periods of time)
- Boxing is a high intensity activity
- Therefore, running cannot possibly benefit boxing in any way, shape or form, as the intensity is too low
To be honest, not only do I understand this point of view, but I also used to believe it myself.
Then I got older and wiser…
Running most certainly CAN be part of a boxer’s training schedule.
Although it doesn’t have to be, and there are definitely some boxers who would be better off using more ‘low impact’ activities, there are no problems with it featuring running as regular part of their training arsenal.
Although I am a proponent of using running within a boxer’s training schedule, I do believe that the majority of boxers could programme it better.
Not only that, but I also believe that the best use of running training is actually to enhance recovery as opposed to maximise boxing performance.
What I mean by this, is that when most people go running, they pick a lengthy distance and then aim to run it as fast as possible…
…and I don’t think this is a particularly brilliant way to train, simply because the intensity is too ‘moderate’ i.e. it’s not high enough to replicate the same demands during boxing, but it’s high enough to place a stress on the body and delay recovery from other types of training.
A better approach may be to follow the ‘Cardiac Output’ recommendations, by Joel Jamieson in his great book ‘Ultimate MMA Conditioning’: –
Pick a time (30–90 minutes) and then aim to keep heart rate between 120–150 beats per minute.
Over time, you have several options of how you can make progress, for example:
- Run for a longer time, whilst keeping average heart rate the same
- Run for a longer distance in the same time, whilst keeping average heart rate the same
- Run the same distance, in the same time, whilst trying to maintain a lower average heart rate
However, beyond 150 beats per minute, and the heart won’t fill up as effectively and you won’t be improving the ability of the heart to pump blood around the body at a lower heart rate, which means you won’t get as complete recovery during rest periods.
Another advantage of maintaining a lower average heart rate is that it’s much less stressful to the body.
So all the strength and conditioning coaches who dismiss low intensity training are doing boxers a total disservice by limiting their ability to recover.
Just to be clear, I’m not advocating that boxers should only perform low intensity running — there are absolutely higher intensity protocols that can (and should) be performed, which can help to maximise work rate and performance.
But if you’re going to run on a frequent basis, then I’d recommend you make sure 1–3 of these runs follow the ‘cardiac output’ guidelines, and see how you get on.
Feel free to give them a try and let me know if you have any feedback — I’d be more than happy to hear it.
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